CLASS Four Stars ****

Traverse Theatre. (Venue 15 Various times)

August 2nd to 26th (not 13, 20)

The simple, unpretentious set for this dynamic, witty and disturbing drama is a primary school classroom, with tiny chairs and desks that the audience walk between to their seats. In doing this, they may well find their minds taken back many years to the joys and fears of early childhood – a sensation very useful for what is to follow.

The brilliant cast of three are class teacher Mr McCafferty (Will O’Connell), separated parents Brian and Jayden (Stephen Jones and Sarah Morris), and the children Donna and Kaylie, also played by Jones and Morris with extremely convincing instant switches between adult and child. The play is jointly written and directed by Iseult Golden and David Horan, and is presented in association with the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

So – we are in an Irish primary school for a parent – teacher meeting. Young Jayden is having difficulties in class, and his teacher is keen to persuade the parents for Jayden to have special tests and help, and maybe to see an educational psychologist.

The parents are separated, and the teacher is also separated from his wife. Teacher Will keeps lapsing into educational jargon and then apologising. The parents easily feel they are being patronized. One very good thing about this show is the palpable embarrassment that is felt by all three characters when they first come together – teacher new to both, parents not having met for some time. This helps draw the audience in, deepen the empathy and sharpen the reactions to moments of humour.

We move between past and present, child and adult, and tension rises and falls as we learn more and more about each character, their issues, strengths and weaknesses.

I would strongly recommend this show to anyone who enjoys becoming involved in the lives of characters on stage, subtle and relevant humour, and seeing the difficulties of communication between people of different backgrounds. This is a very engaging and perceptive piece of drama.

Revied by Tony Challis