For their 15th year, Young Pleasance may have erred on the safe side in choosing John Godber's Teechers as their Fringe offering. The script—which is substantially older than any of the cast—is a particularly well-travelled piece of youth theatre and, to their credit, the company have done their best to stretch it in this new staging.
It's a sparse, intensely physical adaptation of Godber's 1987 script. With no props or set to speak of, the 30-strong cast employ a surprisingly effective collective narration device to construct their backdrop—the failing comprehensive school Whitewall—while carefully-choreographed set pieces are used to navigate space and story. The company have an outstanding group dynamic and these interludes are immaculately well-drilled, though some—most notably a slow-motion fight scene oddly reminiscent of Braveheart—are overdone.
The major roles rotate deftly between several actors, while the rest of the cast form a Greek chorus re-worked as a jeering gaggle of swaggering teens. But even in a larger-than-life production like this one, some of the key characters are overplayed.
However, the real problem with Teechers is that the writing shows its age, with a dense '80s sensibility that the young cast struggle to truly embrace. Things are made worse by an extravagantly kitsch soundtrack (Dire Straits, Queen, Ultravox) that serves more as clutter than zeitgeist. The dialogue tends towards pastiche too, building up an outdated impression of a teenage archetype.