The teacher is terrible, one student is dismissive and a bit stuck-up and the other really, really obnoxious and irritating – and so Holly McKinlay’s play has a perfect cast!
In the “intervention room” of a London school is a young male English teacher and two students who have been deemed as “causes for concern”. One, Taylor, played excellently by Olivia Duffin, is a regular visitor to the intervention room and complains profusely about her detainment before trying to assert her authority and get as much attention as possible, using extreme means to do so. The other student, Aalia, in an accomplished performance from Akila Cristiano, seems an unlikely candidate for behavioural intervention, but throughout the hour-long show the audience learns to expect the unexpected as the characters reveal the difficult truths behind each other’s lives.
The simple classroom setting is decorated with quotations to inspire the students who enter it, but they are disengaged, the lesson design poor and the teacher a pushover; a scene all to familiar in many schools today, and a scene McKinlay clearly takes her inspiration from. The writing is clever and powerful and littered with irony. There are laughs aplenty in the first half of the play, but as it draws to a conclusion the audience are left with an overriding sense of sadness for each of the three characters who are all facing their own battles. It is a gritty reality check with a powerful lesson in not judging a book by its cover.
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