Class review at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘intriguing, if contrived, play about parents and teachers’
Parent-teacher meetings are uniquely pressurised encounters. David Horan and Iseult Golden’s play, first staged at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, explores and exploits this fertile dramatic terrain.
Brian and Donna have been summoned to see Mr McCafferty, teacher of their nine-year-old son Jayden, because their child has scored poorly in a literacy test. From the beginning, Brian is defensive and suspicious, his own experiences of the education system clouding his responses.
The play adeptly demonstrates the stakes that both teachers and parents can have in a child’s well-being and the stresses that teachers are placed under, having to play social worker half the time.
It also cleverly shifts the audience’s sympathies. While McCafferty is initially scrupulously careful in his use of language, talking about “learning difference”, his preconceptions about Jayden’s parents soon float to the surface.
Class has an intriguing premise, but it’s somewhat fudged by a production that hops between scenes in which Sarah Morris and Stephen Jones play Brian and Donna and scenes in which they play young Jayden and his classmate.
The performances are impressively nimble, capturing the kids’ fidgety physicality, and Will O’Connell, as McCafferty, adroitly strikes a balance between a man dedicated to his job and someone with his own prejudices and agendas.
The final scenes, however, are rather contrived and the play as a whole feels muddled, both in what it wants to say and the method in which it says it.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.