With five Daily Info favourable reviews already, I was expecting this production of Teechers to be good. It certainly lived up to expectations.
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.
Arthur Dangerfield (Unverified), 21/02/08
Tonight was my first opportunity of seeing John Godber’s work and it will certainly be the first of many. Abingdon Touring Theatre truly excels itself in this fantastic interpretation of Teechers. The tale of a dysfunctional school with cranky caretakers, kid-hating teachers and hard nut kids disrupting the new drama teacher Nixon’s attempts to better students is superb.
Henry Bays, Hannah Brooks and Charlie Walsh star as the three young but talented actors playing school kids, Salty, Hobby and Gail. The play written for a cast of three (although could be played by many) is highly entertaining and all three actors stay on stage for the whole play. Each takes on a numerous amount of characters - between five and nine, and has got every one to a tee, which just shows the diversity in their acting ability.
Hannah Brooks in particular shows great energy and proficiency as she jumps between characters within the blink of an eye. In the disco scene for example she plays five or six contrasting characters in the space of a few minutes. The choreographed fight is timed to perfection and the play’s serious educational messages are not forgotten. My congratulations go to everyone involved in the show. This play will make you laugh out loud, stun you into silence and feel for the realistic Salty, Gail and Hobby whose futures lie in the hands of politicians with "funny haircuts" who just aren’t bothered!
Sam Davidson (Unverified), 10/02/08
An audience of approximately eighty people were delighted by this play at Basildon ViIlage Hall. The three young actors from the Abingdon Touring Theatre were excellent. They were masters of their trade; their exchanges were word perfect, very slick and so amusing. They changed from one character to the next by altering an expression, a jacket, or a toss of their head - it was mesmerising to watch and their dialogue was so amusing. This energetic young cast with their ability to switch roles so effortlessly kept the audience enthralled.
Working as a teacher for 32 years I could recognise the characterisation of the many pupils and staff alike; I have taught pupils like these and worked alongside staff such as these too. This play is a true portrayal of "comprehensive" school life but told with love and respect for the pupils and staff alike; it is not cruel and cutting but witty, fast moving and accurate. The new young drama teacher is quickly introduced into the complex interaction of personalities in a big school. Here he struggles to make his mark and has success in an unexpected and unorthodox way.
This play was much enjoyed by all of the audience. There was much applause and many enthusiastic comments were exchanged with the cast and the floor. Do go to see this play - you will not be disappointed!
Susan Twitchett (Unverified), 10/02/08
I was privileged enough to see Abingdon Touring Theatre's production of Teechers by John Godber on Saturday the 26th of January. With only four or five weeks rehearsals and only on their sixth show, the play was superb.
John Godber created a play that is funny, moving and political, taking an in-depth look at the educational system of the 80's (although still relevant today). It follows three students: Salty, Gail and Hobby, in their final year of high school, who are asked to put on a play about "school life for the leavers".
Abingdon Touring Theatre have got a great cast in Hannah Brooks, Henry Bays and Charlie Walsh.
Hannah Brooks's portrayals of the strict Mr Basford, Am-Dram lover Mrs Parry and the very realistic 16 year old Hobby. Henry Bays' quick snap changes between the bored, witty Salty to the over eager, energetic new drama teacher Nixon are invigorating, and Charlie Walsh's interperation of the nervous, over-whelmed Miss Whitham is too true a representation.
It is a thoroughly enjoyable show and the rap, ninja and disco scenes with high energy and laugh out loud comic timing bring the play to life!
These three actors are destined to go far. However it is to the director Amy Standish that I give my greatest credit. She has obviously taken John Godber's fantastic work and has been able to adapt it with the help of the talented cast, to bring it to today's audience with the use of great imagination and ideas.
If you want a smashing night out with lots of laughs and entertainment, see this play.
Elizabeth Winters (Unverified), 28/01/08
It’s hard to believe this sharply-observed, highly entertaining comedy has been around for over 20 years – with middle-class parents abandoning state schools in droves, its central message that all children deserve a quality education, regardless of socio-economic class, is as relevant today as it was in 1987 when John Godber (Bouncers) wrote the script.
The story was borne out of Godber’s experience as a secondary school drama teacher and revolves around three high school students, Salty, Gail and Hobby, as they muddle through their final year at the mediocre local comprehensive. Through a series of dialogues, we are introduced to the wider cast of teachers and pupils of Whitewall School, including the ‘well ‘ard’ Oggy Moxon, am-dram obsessed Mrs Parry, despotic hardliner Mr Basford and class-control challenged doctoral grad Miss Whitham. The arrival of new drama teacher, Mr Nixon, ignites an interest in theatre among the academically lacklustre pupils and they find themselves, for the first time, engaged in extracurricular activity that doesn’t involve smoking behind the sheds, aka the drama club.
Abingdon Touring Theatre has recruited an impressive trio in Henry Bays, Charlie Walsh and Hannah Brooks, who rise to the challenge of the fast-paced, physically demanding script with energy to burn and a self-assurance beyond their years. The rap and ninja scenes in particular were laugh-out-loud funny and performed with such brio they gave rise to impromptu ripples of applause in the audience.
The action unfolds at breakneck speed, and each actor plays a variety of roles, which must be conveyed with only a minimum of costuming, lighting and props. It is greatly to the credit of director Amy Standish and the young cast that these character transitions feel neither awkward nor rushed, and we lose none of the wit and colour in the dialogue. Charlie Walsh in particular moves between playing an infatuated Gail, an overwrought Miss Whitham, and the cantankerous school caretaker, Doug, as well as myriad other roles, with humour and subtlety.
This is a production that breathes anarchic life into a play that has more than stood the test of time. Highly recommended.
Sarah Leach (Unverified), 25/01/08
I was fortunate enough to attend the Abingdon Touring Theatre’s opening night of their new show – Teechers by John Godber – and what a treat it was.
Three young but equally talented actors played a huge variety of roles and held the audience in the palms of their hands throughout. The energy was infectious and it was remarkable how they instantly managed to take on a totally new character with the aid of a simple prop or costume change. All three actors stayed on stage for the whole play.
The play is very entertaining (the rap and ninja scenes are particularly good), and the audience all audibly winced at the culmination of the fight scene – carefully choreographed to look and sound very realistic. The culmination is poignant and moving, and made my partner and me feel real anger at the UK’s educational system that is as variable now as it was when the play first opened about twenty years ago.
If you’re wanting an entertaining, moving, thought-provoking and impressive evening, see this.
Andrew Carson (DI User), 19/01/08