C Chambers Street (Venue 34)
August 3rd to 29th (Not 15)
This is an intense and involving two-hander consisting entirely of conversations between a Deputy Head Teacher and a new teacher.in an urban, multi-cultural school. The new teacher is increasingly concerned that a vulnerable pupil is being bullied. The Deputy Head is concerned about her own possible promotion to Head Teacher. She does not want to rock any boats, and finds reasons to block the initiatives suggested by the teacher.
The acting by members of Truant Company is of an extremely high standard throughout, and the narrowness of the focus is not allowed to be a reason for any lack of tension. The Deputy Head notes that the teacher is raising an issue of homophobic abuse, and directly questions why, strongly implying that she believes the young teacher to be lesbian. This makes one wonder when the play is set, as there has been employment protection for LGBT teachers for some years now (when I came out to the Head of the school I was working at in the ’90s he didn’t turn a hair, nor should he have,) but this young teacher is very fearful of saying yes or no to this implication.
This is an engrossing story of the conflict between two people who are both shown to have reasons for their behaviour, and are defending what seems very important to them. It also reveals how very dangerous it can be to have an anti-bullying policy on paper yet refuse to put it into practice where it is needed. I would hope that few schools remain where such hypocrisy is practised, but this play vividly shows the great importance of dealing with homophobia in schools as well as elsewhere where it occurs.