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Stage Dragon Review: Teechers At The Star Inn

Published on: 22 Sep, 2018
Updated on: 22 Sep, 2018

by Tricia Marcotti

The Star Inn’s Back Room is the perfect sized venue for the Guildford Fringe’s production of Teechers.

Mr Nixon (Sam Stay) talking to Gail (Lauren James Ray) and Hobby (Elle Banstead-Salim) in the Guildford Fringe’s production of Teechers at the Star Inn.

Written by John Godber in 1984, it did not feel dated in any way. It’s basically a comedy about school life. Three actors between them play the many characters you would expect to see in a dead-end comprehensive school.

Director Harry Blumenau has schooled his three actors in using the small stage area to its fullest advantage.

Each of the characters portrayed by our three actors has his or her own props. This gives the audience some continuity in deciphering which character is onstage at any one time (although it is still difficult at times).

The play opens with the three actors bounding onto the stage in their student personas. Elle Banstead-Salim as Hobby, Lauren James Ray as Gail, and Sam Stay as Salty had the stamina to complete the evening as they started – full of enthusiasm and energy.

Hobby (Elle Banstead-Salim), school bully Oggy (Sam Stay), and Gail (Lauren James Ray) dancing in the Guildford Fringe’s production of Teechers at the Star Inn.

Their costumes were probably purloined from a local school was my first thought, but then I realised that they looked as if they were not long out of school themselves, so maybe these came from their own wardrobes.

Each of the three had various adult roles to play as well as their main student roles. They each managed the transition with aplomb.

It was a bit disconcerting to watch Lauren and Elle play male characters and if they didn’t quite manage a deep voice they certainly caught the mannerisms. One might think that Sam may have had a slightly easier time of it, but no, he did not as his mimicry of the female characters made us laugh.

Hobby (Elle Banstead-Salim), Oggy (Lauren James ray), and Salty (Sam Stay) joking together in the Guildford Fringe’s production of Teechers at the Star Inn.

John Godber has captured the essence of school life and the audience could recognise people from their schooldays easily. There was the perky gym mistress, the posh head, the school bully, the naive new teacher, the stern older teacher and the bullied and bored students.

As the play happens over a school year, it was interesting to watch the changes in each of the characters as we got to know them better.

Music and choreography were well worked out. The actors managed to avoid getting in each other’s way while executing their musical numbers.

The vignettes were all amusing enough, though occasionally perhaps a little samey, but there were also some poignant moments when you realised the gulf between our kids in this school and those in the posh school up the road.

This is an interesting play for the Guildford Fringe to choose to perform. Not only was it perfect for the venue, it is a play that everyone can relate to. Well done to the Fringe company!

Teechers is on until Saturday, September 29, at The Back Room of the Star Inn. There are still some tickets available for performances on 01483 361101 or book at the Guildford Fringe website.

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