I’m sure we can all remember seeing our teachers feeling the pressure on the cusp of parents evening, and as we’re beginning to realise in light of the unprecedented events of the last couple of years, the strain put on to the modern-day teacher is edging towards being insurmountable. To tell the truth it’s not surprising when you consider the factors that our educators have to contend with, from government cuts and the looming threat of Ofsted, to a rising mental health crisis and safeguarding quandaries. As a result of the mayhem of modern life, the teaching profession is becoming more overstretched than ever. It is issues like this that Queens of Cups are tackling in their show Bad Teacher.
For sure an entertaining and enjoyable experience
The character Evie, presented to us by Erin Holland, I believe is supposed to represent the young teachers who are struggling to survive in this increasingly difficult profession. Amidst some on-the-nose humour about her own sex life and hobbies, we are given an insight into one day in her life as a teacher. Though I can see the budding potential in this story and this structure, I’m afraid the execution and delivery of these ideas didn’t quite hit the heights of success the company might have hoped for.
Though there was much to be liked about the character of Evie and her modern-feminist attitude, and Erin, as a performer was certainly engaging and confident in her interactions with her audience, there were times when it felt like the character was trying too hard to be ‘cool’ or ‘funny’. Similarly, though I appreciated the efforts to structure different parts of the story using the flipchart and musical transitions, it almost felt like these transitions were shoehorned in and rather than tying the whole thing together, instead they became a disruptive and jarring moment. The choice of song throughout the show was apt, but its sudden reappearance and disappearance in these transitions meant that any meaning was lost in the muddy uncertainty of those moments. I commend the attempt to work with structure and tackle the challenging shifts that can be found in a monologue play, but I can’t help but feel they brought a lack of confidence and clarity in the play’s style and tone.
I cannot deny Holland’s performance was amusing, and the audience certainly seemed to enjoy the energy and the humour she brought to the stage, but for me her most successful moment was towards the end, when she finds out a certain piece of jaw-dropping news. At that point her performance felt convincing and raw with emotion. At that point I was excited by what I saw in front of me. I just wish the team had managed to find more moments for that kind of honesty with the audience as, amusing as it is, the humour and erratic energy sometimes felt too forced and artificial, creating a barrier for true engagement.
Overall, I think the show drew upon some really crucial issues, but unfortunately some of the power of their arguments was lost to cliches. There was certainly some fantastic ideas there, worthy of celebration, but I would say there is a need for further thinking and development in the show’s future. Bad Teacher is for sure an entertaining and enjoyable experience, but as it stands, not a particularly stand-out show.