Camden Fringe 2012
Staffroom pretty much does what it says on the tin and the performances are all contained and consistent. This is not the sort of show that should be touted as conventional theatre. This is what I would call organisational theatre, the type of work that is both educational and interesting, is not condescending to its audience and offers some sort of learning possibilities. I see this show touring to schools or attaching itself to workshops.
The content in Staffroom is good. The scenes are short and snappy, the characters are three dimensional as much as they can be and it definitely isn’t boring. It is Waterloo road on stage without the pupils which means unfortunately though a good idea just to concentrate on the staff it lacks punch and pupil act up and retailing ion which keeps energy and interest high.
Unfortunately this show is let down technically With the scene changes very clunky and generally black outs are entirely unnecessary in a show that is almost always set in the same room. Certainly there is no need to have sandwiched blackouts between scenes which are 10 seconds in length. In saying this if these were cut the innovation of the piece would rise and there would be less and the audience will feel more connected to the show. Though the performances are strong when the fourth wall is up, for some reason this kept being pulled down and interfered with making it difficult to really properly get to know the characters. Breaking down that wall requires precision and exact measures and we were not warned of audience participation before entering the theatre.
Stand out performances come from Matt Abercrombie playing the flirty Aussie teacher Jamie and Karly Friend playing downtrodden Louisa. Louise Morell deserves a mention for her considered performance as head teacher Diana.
The set is suitable for the production but it is nothing out of the box nor does it need to be. Well written if not a little long in parts and full of words I didn’t quite understand but for watching countless episodes of Waterloo road!
If you are a teacher or involved in a job in a school or you know one this is the show for you. Go and see it. It is likely to be to teachers what Smash is to theatre types.
The attempt at interactive theatre is admirable (we are offered tea and the opportunity to explore the staff room before taking our seats) and this show should definitely be seen in a workshop or school near you, but this is the sort of theatre you take to people rather than expecting them to come and watch in a conventional black box theatre!