BWW Review: CLASS, Bush Theatre
Iseult Golden and David Horan's story speaks of family struggle, adolescent development and the complexities of the education system. Looking also at class division and culture, it asks questions about the duty of care of a child when two parents are separated.
Set at an after-school meeting, Mr McCafferty (Will O'Connell) has called in Brian (Stephen Jones) and Donna (Sarah Morris) to chat about their son Jayden's progress. He's struggling in certain subjects and may need to see an educational psychologist. It's a lot for the pair to hear.
O'Connell is affable in his tone, giving off a naturally warm presence as Jayden's favourite teacher. But despite being friendly, things quickly turn toxic, as the parents can't shake off the memories of their own education. For them school was a time where their low-class status was highlighted - a time where prejudice was rooted deep in the establishment.
Because of this, their backs are up and they refuse to accept the school's help. It means the teacher's professionalism is tested, as he fails to get through to them.
The two playwrights direct, impeccably well. The action is engaging and alive. The performances are fearless and all three give us many exciting moments.
As well as being the parents, Jones and Morris also play Jayden and his classmate Kaylie. In their portrayal as children they are incredibly playful, and you believe that they are actually much younger than they appear. These two characters are just as complex as the adults. It's a fascinating character study.
At 95 minutes the play does feel a little too long, as it seems possible to wrap everything up within the first hour. After this time, it loses some of its direction and feels repetitive. However, when it works, it's fantastic and is a brilliant exploration of working-class experience, from a specific cultural viewpoint.
Photo: Helen Murray