TEECHERS: John Godber.
Lakeside Arts Centre: Tkts 0115 846 7777 www.lakesidearts.org.uk
Run: 1h 55m: one interval: till Wednesday, 6th November.
Review: Alan Geary: 4th November 2013.
A vast improvement on some recent productions.
The place is packed with skool kids when you arrive, some of them throwing paper darts. This is John Godber’s Teechers, a comic three-hander about an idealistic young drama teacher starting at a tough sink school. By the end ideals have been jettisoned and he’s opted instead for a post at the local posh school.
From Wakefield’s Theatre Royal and the John Godber Company, this is such an improvement on the last production of Teechers to come to Notts you’d think it was a different play altogether. It’s just that this one is properly acted; and it has things like nifty and witty scene changing. There are also some neat directorial touches from Hannah Chissick, for instance the mammoth master timetable being wheeled out to the accompaniment of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus – background sound throughout is enjoyable.
It being a play about school, the usual suspects are deployed. There’s the lust-generating young PE teacher; the reactionary disciplinarian – Maths, of course; the female nervous wreck who can’t teach; the miserable jobsworth of a caretaker. And among the kids there’s the school bully, the precocious vamp, the man-mountain with a tattoo on his throat, the note producer, and so on. The sole non-stereotype is Mrs Cordelia Parry, who considering she’s a headmistress, is actually sexy.
These and more are played with skill and gusto by Laura Bryars, James Dryden and Frances Wood.
There’s chronological confusion; the play has presumably been subject to piecemeal updates since it first appeared. For one thing it can’t make up its mind whether GCEs and CSEs are still being taught or whether they’ve moved on to GCSEs. Less pedantically, Godber could have done without a framing device. That the pupils are putting on a play within the play is neither here nor there and sometimes confusing.
However, the polemical thrust of the evening is transparent. Initially the young protagonist takes the egalitarian stance on education. Sadly, what with his defection and the powerful dog eat dog counter-argument from the “fascist” Basford, his argument sounds distinctly watery.
Hobby: Laura Bryars.
Salty: James Dryden.
Gail: Frances Wood.
Director: Hannah Chissick.
Designer/Lighting Designer: Graham Kirk.