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in Northampton since 1932

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Page last updated: 24/11/2012 Masque Theatre © 2012

by John Godber

Tue 16 - Sat 20 October 2012
Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, Northampton Map >

Production No. 392

Matthew Fell, director

Drawing on his experience as former teacher, Bafta Award Winning playwright John Godber’s comedy Teechers is his paean to his former profession and the inspirational effect it can have on the children they work with whilst illustrating the very human traits and flaws of those that work in the teaching industry.

It concerns three school leavers, Salty, Hobby and Gail who perform to the audience an account of their time in upper school, specifically their time with the new drama teacher who ignites their passion for the stage with his idealism and belief that all children should be treated equally.

The three central characters (and consequently the actors) perform the roles of the other 20+ characters in the play, adults and other pupils alike, at times taking turns to play the same character such as the school bully Oggy Moxon or the strict disciplinarian Deputy Head, Mr Basford.

As such this provides a fantastic opportunity for the actors to play characters they might not normally be cast as, as well as providing much of the humour of the play, on top of Godber’s trademark wit and observational comedy.

The play itself was written in 1987 and as such references many of the topical concerns affecting the teaching profession at the time, many of which are still prevalent. 
 The script suggests the use of contemporary pop music to help maintain the play’s relevance, however I’ve taken the directorial liberty to change this and to use the music of the decade it was written in and in which I’m setting the play, the 80s. There are a few reasons for this. The 80s was when I was at school and so the play, and themes strike a particular and immediate chord albeit the main one being obviously that music was much better back then and the soundtrack will be absolutely ‘poptastic’!

The young and talented cast is made up of one newcomer to Masque in Nici Jones and also Fred Parker and Emily Bale playing a multitude of characters as mentioned above in a real ensemble piece.

It’s already been a pleasure to work with the cast. The theme of the evening is 80s school disco so if anyone wants to dress up accordingly it would be great to see and add to the flavour of the evening.

A blackboard with Teechers written on it

Emma Payne

Godber is a favourite of mine, so I was pleased to review Masque's October production of Teechers.

Godber can be criticised for his over use of nostalgia but that suits me fine, a bit of nostalgia works wonders for me. And any play with a soundtrack of Wham!, Lionel Richie, Kirsty MacColl and Marc Almond to take me back to those angst ridden yet halcyon days of perms, homework and boys is a hit in my book.

Matt Fell's directorial debut for Masque worked well, and he used the space at the Playhouse well. It was obvious that the three actors, Emily Bale, Nici Jones and Fred Parker clearly enjoyed working together and the way they interacted comfortably with each other proved this.

I had not seen Nici or Fred before but they looked perfect for the roles and suited their school uniforms! As did reliable Emily Bale who I have seen in various roles before and she is always a delight to watch. Nici in particular had a range of facial expressions which made me laugh a lot.

This play had a lot of quick changes and it was very slick and the actors did well with their characterisations. I particularly enjoyed Emily's predatory Mrs Parry - especially when she had a bit of a glint in her eye as regards to Mr Nixon which appealed to me.

The sadness in the last scene was portrayed well by the three of them as they realised the enormity of leaving the safe haven of the school they had mocked so easily as the terror of the real world loomed large.

My only gripe was the slow feeling of depression on the way out as I realised that Emily, Nici and Fred were probably not even BORN in the 1980s! Ugh. Pass the Sanatogen!

So full marks to Mr Fell; go to the top of the class.