Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Alarm bells ring among the laughs


The Nonentities

Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


IT is a year or so since my previous encounter with Teechers and my memory is never going to win prizes, but I suspect that John Godber has permitted himself a few tweakings in the interim. Not that these have in any way modified the impact of Whitewall High School, Somewhere in England.

It is still the discipline-free establishment that I remember, with the addition this time that there's a rude word on the blackboard and it isn't spelled right. But I don't recall any previous pupil doing cartwheels across the classroom floor – and doing them very well, with the surprising bonus of a commendation in the director's programme notes on the grounds that the leggy young thing who achieves them is in fact a thirty-something.

Surprising? With all due respect, and whether it's true or not, it seems unbelievable.

To my untutored gaze, none of the four rebellious girls looks particularly older than any of the others, and all of them – Charlotte Acton, Jodie Brittain, Dawn Scipio and Rebecca Williams – are eminently credible in their required age bracket. Belief in their portrayals, moreover, is strengthened because they do what 14-to-16-year-olds – boys and girls alike – do very much tend to do: very often, they gabble as if the object of the evening is to get it over as quickly as possible.


Their intonations are right as well, with the occasional sentence being surprisingly delivered as if it is a question.

And, by jingo, they look right! Scarf-size ties loosely draped around their necks, and pelmet skirts with high-rise hemlines atop legs that seem to go on for ever. This is the picture of Young Britain that is unfailingly on show at home-time, five afternoons a week. It is alarmingly accurate.

What the rest of us are not customarily privileged to see is the inside of the classroom – and director Richard Taylor succeeds in providing an eye-opening beginning, encompassing many of our worst fears, before toning down the subsequent action.

Rob Broadhurst (Mr Nixon) elicits most of our sympathy in seeking to quell the inevitable rebellion and suffering a crush at the hands of one of his pupils at the end-of-term dance; and Matt Preece emerges likeably as Salty.

The evening is often amusing in its alarming way. And it's alarming all the time because, for all the fun-filled froth, it carries the badge of truth. We're afraid that this is what things are really like. A talented company makes us believe that this is the pitch that education has reached; that these are the young people who hold our future in their hands – and it is not a comfortable feeling. To 13.2.10.

John Slim 

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