Teechers – Leavers ’22
The Hawth, Crawley
The Blackeyed Theatre Company
I was first introduced to two of John Godber’s plays ‘Bouncers’ and ‘Teechers’ during the early ‘90s at a repertory theatre in the Midlands. Both plays were memorable for being a fascinating insight in social interactions.
Travel forward, ahem, 30 years and ‘Teechers’ has been given a rewrite, bringing it bang up to date. It still draws on its original story about a newly qualified drama teacher at a state comprehensive school making a significant difference to her unruly and disinterested students before being lured by the facilities and social standing of the local public school.
In the updated ‘Teechers – Leaver’s ‘22’, Whitewall High School is an Academy struggling with the challenges that the pandemic brought, the students have mobile phones but no computers on which to do their homework and Tiktok is more important than Maths. The root problem, however, remains exactly the same as 30 years ago, a private education gives those who are privileged more of an advantage than they already have.
Three actors Ciara Morris, Terenia Barlow and Michael Ayiotis, play not only the three protagonists Gail, Hobby and Salty but also a huge plethora of other students and teachers, effortlessly interchanging between the characters with a look, an accent or a mannerism. The trio extol exuberant energy and maintain a connection with the audience, keeping us on our toes and enabling us to recognise every character, from the school bully to the wittery RS teacher and the over dramatic headteacher amongst others.
Teechers – Leavers ’22’s ending is unexpected and thought provoking. Despite the intrinsic message not having changed in 30 years, this new version of Teechers is refreshing and well executed. Director Adrian McDougall together with Martha Godber (the writer’s daughter) and their versatile troop have created an inspiring production that high school drama students would certainly benefit from seeing.
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill