Blackeyed Theatre bring John Godber's Teechers Leavers '22 to Theatre Severn. This fast-paced comedy sees pupils Salty, Hobby and Gail hilariously recount their last year at secondary school. Review by Aaliyah Young.
Teechers Leavers '22 opens at Theatre Severn this week with a character-filled plot that sees Salty, Hobby and Gail comically re-enact their last year at school.
From the get-go, the audience is immediately immersed in the school of White Wall - an underprivileged and underperforming state school - with the graffiti scrawled across the floor of the set. Three cast members in school uniforms appeared and began interacting with the audience as people were taking their seats. This in character moment before the show even started helped set an engaging and amusing tone for the rest of the play.
The cast was small and made up of three extremely talented actors Michael Ayiotis, Terenia Barlow and Ciara Morris. They each convincingly played teenagers performing to their other classmates and teachers as well as having to multirole every character mentioned in the student’s retelling of their school year. These character changes were easy to follow and added to the humour.
The actors all had incredible comedic timing - the audience loved the disobedient kids dragging the chairs as slowly as possible to delay the lesson, much to the annoyance of Miss Nixon!
The show makes use of Brechtian techniques and physical theatre; scenes are interspersed with dance and popular songs, including a remix of Running up that Hill by Kate Bush which had a resurgence in popularity after being used in Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things. The cast moved the set during these musical interludes, which made the moments in-between scenes fun to watch and kept the energy in the audience high.
Teechers manages to successfully criticise the education system including its approach to the arts and how it is affected by the class system, whilst still keeping its comedic tone. It addresses topical and relevant issues, such as the discrepancy in opportunities available to students depending on the type of school they go to and the impact of lockdown.
Although it’s primarily a comedy there were still serious and poignant moments. These moments were handled sensitively and hit harder because of the contrasting funny moments that surround them. I have to congratulate Terenia Barlow in particular who plays Hobby for a very moving performance in the show's final moments.
Because Teechers is tailored to the current experience of secondary school students it is regularly updated. Since last watching it, when I myself was still at secondary school, there have been lots of new additions to the script and new songs. As much as the overarching plot was familiar, it felt like an entirely new show and was definitely worth seeing again.
Teechers Leavers '22 effectively explores the mixed feelings of leaving secondary school in a way that feels authentic. It’s a show that is enjoyable to watch while also dealing with some heavier political content. I would recommend it for older students and parents who have an interest in education - but it's also an hilarious comedy in its own right.
Teechers Leavers '22 is at Theatre Severn until May 24th, with multiple showtimes. Book Here