A play set in a school classroom in attempt to explore class struggles sums up what Iseult Golden and David Horan are exploring in their most recent production at the Traverse. Brian and Donna (Stephen Jones and Sarah Morris) are invited into the school to meet with their son Jayden’s teacher, Mr McCafferty (Will O’Connell), to discuss a test that would diagnose any ‘learning differences’ that he might have. As the play jumps between scenes of this parent-teacher meeting and of Jayden and his best friend Kaylie (also played by Jones and Morris), the audience are exposed to a wider social hierarchy outside the four walls of the classroom. Unfortunately, what starts off as an interesting investigation quickly dries up, and is left feeling more like the first draft of a scene from Waterloo Road, except it is stretched to a lengthy eighty-five minutes.
There’s a lack of theatricality within the show, as we’re trapped in a classroom filled with stern desks and chairs. Also, there is little action in the plot, which makes the experience rather uneventful. Only when (spoiler alert) the punch is finally given does the story really kick off, but by then it is too late to make much of an aftermath. Instead, we’re given a long build up, with individual scenes not achieving much, as the crux is often exposed in its final lines. The story is really worth exploring, as the assault of a middle-class teacher on a working-class parent has potential. However, this isn’t what is delivered. Looking around, people began to fall asleep, or sat staring at their watches, yawning.
Despite this, there are some strong performances and the actors make what they can of the text. O’Connell has a real warmth to his expressions, which are shadowed with condescension. Jones and Morris move effortlessly from adults to children, although the delivery of the latter seems a little stereotypical and inaccurate at times.
It seems that this play wants its audience to question their own perceptions of class, and to understand that an individual’s behaviour is not defined by their awareness of language. However, given the laughter that appears when Brian’s ignorance is highlighted, I’m not sure that this play is going to change anyone’s opinion on the matter.
Class is playing Traverse Theatre until 26 August 2018. For more information and tickets, see here.
Photo Credit: Ros Kavanagh