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STAGE REVIEW: Teechers @ Customs House, South Shields

March 13, 2018 11:00 am

Teechers 3

Review by Hannah Wilkin

Your school days are said to be the best days of your life. A time of learning, realising your dreams and potential, and of making memories and friendships that will last forever. Or, a time of rolling up your skirt, running out of lessons and making every teacher’s life a misery!

Teechers is told to us by Salty, Gayle and Hobby, three rowdy year elevens on the cusp of leaving school. They are performing a play for their teachers, acting out what life at their school is really like, and they don’t hold back. From staffroom shenanigans to disruptive lessons, they enact every comical detail using just three school desks and chairs. In particular they tell the story of Mr Nixon, a teacher who arrives at Whitewall fresh from University, determined to inspire in his students a love of drama. His enthusiasm and care for his students is pushed right to the limit, and the posh school next door is calling his name.

Teechers was riotous fun, there were only three actors but between them they play twenty characters. The actors in this production did this brilliantly, it was never confusing who was who despite them often doubling up on roles. It was entertaining to see characters we all recognise from our own school experiences, from teachers who can’t control a class to those who terrify everyone into absolute silence. As it was a play within a play we were actually seeing the teenagers’ portrayal of their teachers and so this resulted in hilarious caricatures such as the alluring Miss Prime and eccentric Mrs Parry. A lot of the hilarity was seeing familiar school situations enacted on stage. There was one scene where Gayle and Hobby are asked to come and sit in a circle and they spend ages walking across the stage, making their chairs scrape as loudly as possible. It doesn’t sound that funny but the audience fell about with laughter.

Teechers has a very recent feel to it despite the script being almost twenty years old. This contemporary tone is partly due to the expert way the production used music. Music was used in scene changes and interwoven with action, all the tracks fitted perfectly and had clearly been chosen by someone who was in touch with the soundtrack of today. There was one scene where the students begged Mr Nixon to let them put on a production of Frozen. This led to an incredibly over-the-top dance routine with chairs being flung across the stage, which Mr Nixon cut short telling the kids to ”Just let it go already”.

Despite the contemporary feel to Teechers there were certain points that couldn’t happen in a school today because of safe guarding reasons. However it would be a shame to cut out the comedy gold of Gayle attempting to cling to Mr Nixon as they dance together at the school disco.

Whitewall is a struggling school, with limited resources and teachers who don’t last very long. The students are disillusioned by a system that has branded them as average, teachers have ”given us up for dead”. After an evening spent with Salty, Gayle, Hobby and their classmates we can see that underneath the spray painting and swearing are young people who have been let down and told they will never do anything important with their lives. We see the difference that a teacher like Mr Nixon, who truly cares about these kids and wants to engage them with his passion, can make. Sadly though, we could also see why a teacher such as Mr Nixon would be tempted to leave a school with terrible behaviour and a bad reputation for one with largely hard working students and a school with its own drama studio. In between the fits of laughter Teechers challenges us to look at where we are failing young people and teachers.

Teechers will have you in stitches, and at other points leave you angered at the injustice of our education system. It is wonderfully funny, thought provoking and well worth a watch.


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