by John Godber.
Tour to 29 June 2013.
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary 13 June at Palace Theatre Mansfield.
A good play ill-served by a poor production.
Not a word is wasted in John Godber’s sharply-written and often ribald play within a play within a play about the tribulations of a first-year drama teacher in a sink school. Like all the best comedies, Teechers is not just extremely funny; it says some important things – here we join the ongoing debate about selection and elitism in education. Interestingly, the fascist teacher who sends his own offspring to the posh school the other side of town gets the better end of the argument.
All the stereotypes are here: the reactionary Maths teacher, the ineffectual supply teacher, the fanciable PE mistress, the idealistic young newcomer; and among the pupils, the hardnut, the tart, the dullard. Trouble is, this Blackeyed Theatre production isn’t content with stereotypes: it makes nearly all of them into grotesques.
There’s massive overacting all over the place, most obviously when it comes to Nicole Black’s Miss Prime; and Donna Preston in nearly every character she takes on. Almost the only subtlety comes from Jacob Addley, as Salty, and as Jeff Nixon, the new drama teacher, who’s very well done. Perhaps Director Adrian McDougall is aiming for a kind of comic strip effect; if so, it doesn’t come off.
The evening we went, there was ear-splitting and entirely gratuitous uproar just before the second half, but from start to finish, the whole thing is far too shouty and noisy. It isn’t always clear what’s being said or even what’s going on, which, given the excellence of the original text, is inexcusable. It also means that moments which need to be loud lose their impact.
What with innovations from a succession of meddling Secretaries of State, Godber’s 1987 original is dated. But the partial up-dating here – Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ in the sound and changes to some of the text – doesn’t work. It would have been better to leave well alone and go for a period piece.
Salty: Jacob Addley.
Gail: Nicole Black.
Hobby: Donna Preston.
Director: Adrian McDougall.
Lighting: Alan Valentine.
Choreographer: Scott Jenkins.