The setting is still the underwhelming and Ofsted-failing Whitewall academy and the main characters in this three-handed revival remain Hobby, Gail and Salty.
However, Godber’s original, vividly brought to life by the renowned Hull Truck Theatre Company, focused on a play within a play (which it still does) during still angsty yet simpler times for students.
Teechers Leavers ’22 – set last year as the title suggests – shows Year 11 pupils facing a whole new set of problems, such as lockdown isolation, online lessons, exam chaos and the scary reality of leaving school for a mad world.
But this lost generation, epitomised beautifully here by Terenia Barlow, Ciara Morris and Michael Ayiotis, faces up to the reality of a bad education with cynicism, humour and pathos.
They are staging a school play based on school life (with names changed to protect the innocent) to an audience of teachers and fellow pupils on their last day.
Of the youngsters Hobby is still mostly fed-up, Gail remains sassy and Salty fired up and secretly optimistic. The ‘teechers’, also all played by our young cast, are mostly hopeless, uncaring or wishing they were elsewhere.
The exception is Miss Nixon, the enthusiastic new drama teacher (well played by Barlow) who manages to somehow inspire the bored and wholly disinterested pupils and give them some hope.
Yes, there is dancing, yes, there is ‘singing’, an updated soundtrack – even a Greatest Showman routine ¬– and the trio interact wonderfully, especially on the choreographed numbers on a fairly bare set with just desks and chairs as props.
I suspect everyone in the audience could identify with at least one aspect of this play being not a million miles away from their own schooldays – and that reality is the beauty of Teechers.
There’s the incomprehensible timetable, the chair slowly scraped across the floor by an incalcitrant youngster, the curmudgeonly caretaker, the teacher DJ playing three years out of date ‘hip’ records at the school disco, the school bully, the fights and the awful deputy head.
Essentially, the play remains an undisguised demonstration of what is wrong with our education system ¬– the hopelessness of Whitewall’s underfunded despair compared with the affluence of the private school up the road.
It is the lack of a level playing field, the have-nots versus the haves, the pupils writing essays on their phones because they have no computers, the lack of ambition and the despondent staff worn down by circumstances and accepting of their lot.
Teechers Leavers ’22 offers no answers to this conundrum, merely observes and comments and the downbeat ending is only to be expected.
Adrian McDougall’s Blackeyed Theatre production, mid-way through a lengthy tour, continues to be the perfect introduction to theatre for young people – just a pity there weren’t more of them here.