Teechers

Tue 21st – Sat 25th February 2012

reviews

Xandra Burns

at 23:16 on 22nd Feb 2012

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It’s called “Teechers.” The poster features chalkboard-inspired type and the crossed-arm torso clothed in a collared shirt and tie. The atmosphere and setting of the play are therefore unsurprising: a bit nostalgic and youthful, tied together with humor and attitude. The three cast members, Alex Sheppard, Kaiya Stone, and Sarah Illingworth are listed in the playbill as Salty, Hobby, and Gail, but also portray the seemingly unending chorus of supporting characters. With the smooth direction of Claire Morely, all three succeed in shifting roles with the sharpness the challenge requires - each of the many characters is distinct and comical. “Teechers” is good fun, and the actors’ performances compensate for an unpolished script.

The premise seems to be that three unmotivated students are drawn in to the world of drama by their new teacher, and through the class find meaning in imagination and in themselves. This is alluded to in the playbill, and in the opening scene, and naturally, is returned to in the end, but the entire middle of the play does not quite explain how they get from one point to the other. The illusion that the entire show is a play-within-a-play performed by these three students is the weakest point of the writing - it seems that we are supposed to believe that the bulk of the performance we witness is acted not by Sheppard, Stone, and Illingworth, but by their characters. The real-life actors’ performances are so polished that it is simply unbelievable that the show is actually performed by the apathetic sixth formers from the opening scene - and there is no sufficient explanation for their sudden transformations. While John Godber’s script includes wit and some vibrant personalities, as a whole it fails to provide clarity or conclusion.

Considering the fall-backs of the script, this production takes advantage of the strong points it has to offer. The set and costumes are simple and effective, as the cast uses a couple of simple props (stored in a box onstage labelled “Propz”) to indicate character changes. Edan Tal’s sound design is excellent, keeping energy up between shifts by punctuating scenes with appropriately bouncy musical breaks. As the play progresses I anticipate with delight each new ridiculous situation the cast will take on, which new accents and postures they have left to perform by the end. See “Teechers” to witness some excellent comic acting with sarcastic teenage humor. Brush the technicalities of the play-within-a-play aside and let the colorful spectrum of characters entertain.

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