Teechers (Sheringham)

Ryan Starling, Madeleine Brolly & Sarah Langton
Ryan Starling, Madeleine Brolly & Sarah Langton

If this year’s summer repertory theatre season on the north Norfolk coast continues to the standard set by its opening production, then theatre-goers should have nothing of which to complain. John Godber’s Teechers, first seen on the Edinburgh Festival fringe way back in 1987, was the bold choice; director Warren S Cathrine apparently had only a week in which to stage it – but that was in no way apparent on the opening night.

The cast of three – agile Ryan Starling, brooding Madeleine Brolly and all-but sulking Sarah Langton – are the bored, teetering into final year teenagers who we meet in the classroom of a not particularly flourishing comprehensive as we take our seats. They transform with a whisk of a jacket, a rumple of hair and the occasional false nose into other students and staff. The central character, however, is the idealistic young drama teacher Mr Nixon.

Although some might might say that Nixon sells out in the end, Godber presents his professional dilemmas in such a way that on the two occasions when a long speech marshals the arguments for and against selective education, the audience is gripped and listens to every word. Starling is very good both as the more disruptive male students and as Nixon with Langton extremely funny as the headmistress with an am-dram production of The Mikado on her mind and the disgruntled deputy head who controls the timetable.

Brolly is totally believable as the girl let down by the system and facing a future as dead-ended as her past and present who develops a crush on the new, somewhat naive, teacher, a staff member scanning the job pages of the TES and as the caretaker who’s seen it all before. Many times. All three whirl us along with the school’s inhabitants as some dreams are realised but many more will never be fulfilled.