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Teechers (Susan Elkin reviews)

by John Godber. Guildford Fringe Theatre Company on tour
performance date: 07 Sep 2019
venue: Churchill Studio Theatre, High Street, Bromley, Kent BR1 1HA

Photos: Sam Stay


With only very marginal updating, John Godber’s 1985 play, is so beautifully observed that, with three fine young actors, directed by Harry Blumenau (assisted by Charlotte Bateup), it’s as fresh and funny as the day it was written.

Three school leavers, whose school is distinctly “sink”, put on a play in homage to their drama teacher who’s leaving and anyone who’s ever been a teacher will recognise every line and situation. It isn’t clichéd. It’s truthful. Many under-50s chuckle too because this is their schooldays.

It was written for three actors who play more than twenty other parts. Godber has said that you could cast it quite differently but in this production it is done as originally intended and it’s a real treat to see three actors working so magnificently together. It’s fast paced and energetic and some of the voice work is terrific as they rotate accents and roles at top speed.

Elle Banstead-Salim as Hobby richochets cheerfully between the appalling bossy teacher who lords it over everyone else (every school staff has one of those) the absurdly excessive would-be amdram theatre director, a very lippy schoolgirl and much more. She’s lively and very funny.

As Salty, Sam Stay is wistful rueful and naughty before becoming Mr Nixon, the anxious new drama teacher who grows and develops during the year – along with other roles. It’s accomplished acting and his facial expressions are very eloquent.

This is a professional debut for Dannie Harris (Gail) who graduated from Drama Centre this summer. Tall and blonde she makes a lovely visual contrast to the other two. Her shifts between the cool, attractive PE teacher, the dotty old staff room fixture and the raucous all-singing, all dancing good time schoolgirl are delightful. I hope Drama Centre are proud of her.

Guildford Fringe Company have embarked on a mini tour with this production. It would be good to see them outside Guildford more often because they’re producing good work.

 First published by Sardines:
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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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