Alongside celebrating 50 years at Hull Truck Theatre, TeechersLeavers ‘22 makes a comeback on its 35th anniversary. John Godber has reimagined his famous play from 1987, originally named Teechers which debuted in the same theatre as well. It is now updated with jokes and remarks of the present day based on current events, hence the title’s re-naming.
This multi-role play performed by only three actors focuses on students Hobby (Martha Godber), Salty (Levi Payne) and Gail (Purvi Parmar) who recently completed their BTec drama exam on Zoom. They reflect on their times at school and anticipate what lies ahead of them as they leave Whitehall College to embark on a new and uncertain future in these confusing times.
The stage shows a simple setup of a classroom with only three tables in the center. However, set designer Caitlin Mawhinney has gone into minute detail to transport the audience into an actual classroom the moment they step into the studio – the broken windows and missing letters on the wall to the lockers vandalised with scribbles paired perfectly with Jessie Addinall’slighting, showcasing hues of red, blue and green. It’s hard to say that the set didn’t bring a sense of nostalgia to a handful of audiences in the room.
Director Mark Babych has helped bring the play to life with the clarity of the different roles the actors switch to in a snap. With simple costume changes like a jacket or Groucho glasses to changing their demeanours back and forth from impudent students to agitated teachers, there is no doubt the audience have any trouble with the character distinctions from how terrifically the actors have pulled them off. Not forgetting to mention alsothe comedic moments when the physicality of fight scenes isacted out in slow motion!
With an adjoining studio named after him on Press Night, Godber’s comedy drama was exceptionally written, capturing the audience’s beaming smiles with snappy wits and jokes, including Boris Johnson partying when Christmas parties were banned due to Covid (winning everyone’s laughter). The production definitely goes to show the cast and creative team went beyond their artistry to flesh out the potential of this play, which finishes on a sentimental open ending after a highly entertaining plot journey.