Not to be confused with the Cameron Diaz film in 2011, Bad Teacher offers a tongue in cheek look at the teaching profession and how this particular teacher manages to deal with the day-to-day frustrations of the job.
As an introduction, the screen on the backdrop projects news articles about Government cuts to education, mental health and general unrest within the teaching profession because of pressure, leading to teachers quitting.
Evie is a 26-year-old drama teacher who feels that she is underpaid and underappreciated. She has decided that as no-one has offered her a pay rise, that she must ask for it herself; you don’t ask you don’t get. Today she is feeling the power of BPE (big pussy energy), so she feels superhuman. Head of the arts department Nina is the salt of the earth Northerner and it’s a good job as Evie is unsure how she will react to what she witnessed when Nina bumped into her at the weekend. Evie and a friend decide to spend their Saturday at a day rave. It’s 9am and Evie has glitter boobs hanging out of her bikini top and is already suffering from the affects of 3 red stripes and has another in her hand; then she bumped into Nina. ‘Phew, she doesn’t say anything, and thank god she didn’t know I have ecstasy in my pocket!’
The character of Evie (Erin Holland) is based upon the experiences that Holland had when she taught English and Drama in a Catholic Sixth Form College and together with the director, Grace O’Keefe, they call themselves ‘The Queens of Cups’. There are many anecdotes, and as a parent myself having done many a parent’s evenings, I can truly say that these observations are accurate. Even though the play is laced with lashings of comedy, it does not mean that it shies away from bringing up issues. Mental health in teachers due to the pressure and lack of backup, and children who simply don’t feel that they can possibly measure up to the perfection that they believe is expected of them. This darker side of the play is handled sensitively and is a sharp contrast to the saucy comedy that has gone before. Holland who wrote and performed the play, which was directed by O’Keefe, brought in some dramatic events with the use of banging tunes, army influences and lots of references to Ofsted, which must be the bane of every school, and teacher’s life.
By taking the character so far over the top that is should be unbelievable, makes it feel more humanised as we see inside the mind of Evie. As a young 26-year-old teacher, she still connects with the teenagers that she teaches and when she takes one of them under her wing, this throws the spotlight onto issues that face many young people due to unnecessary pressures to have the right look and body shape.
The play is fast paced, crude but also allows us to see the person behind the job, and the vulnerability of the students.
Both performance and direction are perfectly executed, and you couldn’t ask any more from a performer. Holland gave Evie a vivid exuberance and her energy gave her character colour. As this is a monologue, all the characters were played by Holland. She switched between the other characters effortlessly, making them different enough to be believable. The play is very cleverly written to both shock with her slightly vulgar personality, but she has an underlying softness which is endearing.
There are some performances left at the Etcetera Theatre during this Camden Fringe Festival, and if you want a fun show, that is laugh out loud funny, then this is the one for you.
If you would like to buy a ticket, go to https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/bad-teacher/ Don’t miss it!
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 17th August 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★