Written and performed by Chris Woodley, this one man show tells Woodley’s own story about being a drama teacher, growing up gay and falling in love.
He performs it with the structure of a drama lesson, beginning with the aim (‘To live happily ever after’) which he notes down in chalk on the blackboard surface of his briefcase, and ending with an evaluation of what has been learnt. He also makes use of techniques typically found on a drama GCSE checklist, teaching us about them as he goes along. He gets two volunteers from the audience to come up and create some freeze frames, however as fitting as using the techniques as a storytelling device are, they do break away slightly from the emotional crux of the story. He hot-seats himself, after explaining what hot seating is, which makes the whole thing rather informal and ironically strips the show of its potentially theatrical finesse.
The show is glittered with song and dance, which is all quite uplifting. Woodley shimmies with a montage to Smokey Robinson’s ‘My Guy’ and spins around the stage in his very teacher-like suit.
He talks about falling in love with Ryan, a theatre producer, and how he introduces him to experimental theatre. The issue with using the structure of the lesson plan is that, as we all know, lessons can just become boring. The story itself is quite serious (with a fair amount of comic relief throughout), but the style of the show is too similar to the content. There’s plenty of opportunity for Woodley to be a bit experimental, but it doesn’t get much more colourful than some dolls and a pair of Pom Poms. When he gets emotional and presumably his audience to sympathise, it all seems too forced. There’s also a bit of a mix up in the storytelling (I did check with others, and I wasn’t the only one to get confused) which meant that the bit of the play where things start to get emotional was completely missed by at least some of the audience. Rather than becoming emotionally connected, I sort of just got a bit confused.
The dialogue is quite blunt and basic; there’s a lack of poetry. There are some relatable connections – ringing up Virgin Media to complain about the service is something we all unfortunately know about – but the story isn’t really brought to life with the text. Woodley becomes someone we sympathise with, in a show which is restricted by its concept.