Friday, 19 April 2019

Chiltern Players’ classroom drama scores 10 out of 10

Chiltern Players’ classroom drama scores 10 out of 10

Teechers | Peppard Memorial Hall | Saturday, October 13

CHILTERN Players have chalked up another success with their autumn production, Teechers.

John Godber’s play, written in 1987 but still relevant today, is set in an underachieving secondary school.

The characters, eight disaffected pupils and six struggling teachers, are played in this version by nine different actors.

Young Mr Nixon arrives at the school to teach drama and stays long enough to change the outlook of three of his students — Salty (Tom Brabben), Gail (Sue Clark) and Hobby (Cathy Brabben).

Teechers is their story. These three have some of the funniest lines and also some of the most poignant.

Parents of teenagers everywhere will recognise their accurate mimicry and irreverent observations.

The comedy could easily be overplayed, particularly as there are seven adults romping around in school uniform!

The characters of blustering Mr Basford, one of five parts played by the phenomenal Ian Miles, and of convincingly nasty school bully Oggy Moxon (Terry Sopp) could also potentially slide into caricature.

Fortunately the actors avoid the pitfalls and Rosemary House directs with a firm but light touch, as well playing Mrs Parry, the dedicated and eternally optimistic headteacher.

Alastair Reed is good as Mr Nixon the fresh new teacher, who is gradually worn down by the depressing environment, and other teachers — and students — are well portrayed by Alison Stevenson and Diana Pattinson.

The set is minimal as befits an underfunded secondary school but costume accessories, lighting, sound and props bring the action to life and the scenes are well choreographed.

This is an entertaining and challenging play which poses uncomfortable questions. What will happen to the students when they leave Whitewall High School? How much difference can one good teacher make? The future is indeed a blank slate or a “white wall”.

Chiltern Players had a tricky task in conveying and maintaining the balance between humour and potential misery, yet they pulled this off admirably.

Christine Murphy

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