The three very talented cast members seem to switch effortlessly between roles by simply putting on jackets or hats. The characters they play are recognisable to many in the teaching profession and also to many with memories of their own schools. It is almost too realistic to be funny. Having said that, it is a very amusing play, with a serious message at its heart.
The main story is that of a new extremely able drama teacher, Geoff Nixon, who is able to enthuse his classes at a tough comprehensive known as Colditz at the local County Hall. Other characters include the strict Mr Basford, whose policy is to “hit them low and hard”, the nervous weak teacher whose main threat is to call in Mr Basford, and the usual selection of kids such as the school bully and the schoolgirl who wants to seduce the teacher.
I particularly liked some of the jokes about staffroom politics and the difficulty of new staff members in finding a seat to which no-one has a claim, such that they prefer to stand outside in the rain. The Abingdon audience particularly loved the Oggy Moxon rap on “being ‘ard” and the idea of the bat phone and Ninja rescue team that must be the dream of many a teacher stuck in a tricky situation.
The three cast members vary from 18 to 22 in age and play the parts of both the school children and staff with credibility. They all have impressive CVs and I for one will be watching out for Henry Bays, Charlie Walsh and Hannah Brooks in the future. I will also be looking out for the next Abingdon Touring Theatre production.
The company finishes in Abingdon on February 24th and touring locally on March 2nd. Make a point of seeing this production while you still have the chance.