Class at Bush Theatre
Class is writer/directors Iseult Golden and David Horan’s seventh collaboration over ten years of working together. After a debut in Dublin and a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe, the original cast and crew bring the production to London.
The scene is a parent teacher meeting. Mr McCafferty has called in nine-year-old Jayden’s newly separated parents, Brian (Stephen Jones) and Donna (Sarah Morris), to discuss a below average score on a literacy test and how they might help him. The father arrives first and is defensive from the outset; an initial attempt at finding common ground in small talk regarding mechanics provides a blunder. Brian finds Donna waiting outside the door to be called in, a hangover from her own school days. Both adults are put on the defensive by their own less-than-positive experiences at the same school. As the teacher tries to explain the potential problem, the language he uses alienates the former couple. When he leaves the room, they regress to teenagers, larking about and pushing against perceived authority.
The play chops in time between the doomed meeting and Mr McCafferty helping Jayden and his classmate Kaylie with their reading in a homework club. Stephen Jones and Sarah Morris also play the kids and are so convincing as children that it is hard to believe there are only three performers ever on stage. Their body language, eyes, gestures and speech are perfect: Kaylie dancing about sweetly and Jayden huffing and putting his head on the desk.
As the meeting goes on, it devolves into arguments between the two parents, and Brian and Mr McCafferty. Brian hides his insecurities behind intimidating rage and we see the teacher trying to do the right thing but letting his own ingrained views slip out at times. Will O’Connell’s Mr McCafferty seems haunted by the cycle of deprivation he witnesses.
Class is a funny and affecting 95 minutes. The characters, with their Dublin inflections in speech and palpable back stories, are vividly drawn. So much so that an audience will genuinely feel this is a glimpse into a pivotal time in real lives.
Photo: Helen Murray
Class is at Bush Theatre from 7th May until 1st June 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.