Thursday, July 7

Teechers Leavers ’22 – Hull Truck Theatre

Zoom, Netflix, Wordle, Covid 19, sanitising, face masks, Til Tok were all clues that playwright John Godber’s production Teechers, first performed in 1987, had been brought up to date with his re-imagined version – Teechers Leavers ’22.

The Hull Truck Theatre was very well attended on Tuesday evening, as theatregoers not only looked forward to watching this rewrite, but also to the fact that Godber had been honoured with having the theatre’s Studio space renamed the Godber Studio.

I arrived early on the night so I could be privy to the, admittedly short and sweet, speeches by the production’s director, Mark Babych, and Godber, in what is this popular theatre’s 50th anniversary year.

Then it was showtime. As the lights dimmed, the deliberately unfussy stage setting came into view, and we were inside the shabby Whitewall College.

Three amazing actors played a considerable number of roles between them – complete with different accents and character traits.

Salty (Levi Payne), Gail (Purvi Parmar) and Hobby (Martha Godber) kept us entertained non-stop – their energy was awe-inspiring.

As regulars to this local theatre will know, the actors aren’t hidden from view by a heavy curtain, so costume and scenery changes are all done before our very eyes – and on the night it was this trio of talents who did the lot with the minimum fuss and disruption.

Unruly students, Salty, Gail and Hobby are all facing their last term at the college in a run-down area of Hull. And they aren’t receptive to new drama teacher, Ms Nixon’s (Martha Godber), attempts to interest them in her subject.

The fact that the school is under-funded, especially where drama is concerned, and Ms Nixon doesn’t even warrant a seat in the staff room, dismays her. In fact, her classes have to be held in any old space, such was drama’s unimportance in the curriculum.

Even fellow staff members (you know who you are, Dr Basford – played by Payne and Parmar at different times) are quite unhelpful and unwelcome towards her.

Ms Nixon gradually wins her class around, so much so that Salty fancies himself in love with her. His attempts at seduction at the school disco is really funny, and what follows in Ms Nixon’s car when she headbutts the college’s most feared student, Moxy, is a laugh-out-loud moment.

Comedy abounds, especially in the second half, but there are serious moments and shocks, too, especially Ms Nixon’s end-of-term decision.

But the main theme running throughout is the difference between the haves and the have-nots where education is concerned. The script also highlights the profound effect the recent pandemic and subsequent lockdown had on the many Whitewall students who didn’t have access to a home computer.

Payne, Parmar and Godber (the playwright’s daughter) brought events to life with their clear diction, energy and obvious joy at performing. Their super talents lightened quite serious subjects, leaving us in the audience thoroughly entertained whilst giving us something to ponder on when we left the theatre.

Running until Saturday, June 11th, 2022; 7.30pm nightly with 2pm matinees on Saturday, 21st, Wednesday, 25th, Saturday, 28th, Wednesday, June 1st, Saturday, June 4th, Wednesday June 8th and Saturday, June 11th. Tickets cost from £10. Call (01482) 323638 or visit www.hulltruck.co,uk

Recommended for ages 12+ due to strong language

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 24th May 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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