Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Teachers
Teachers: universally regarded as the dullest group of people on earth to go on a night out with. But how do they stack up individually?
As teachers go, Orlando Baxter is the cool one. An ex-history teacher from Massachusetts, Baxter is genuinely interested in what the audience have to say, rather than simply asking questions for effect.
Of course, teachers research their Fringe guide thoroughly before committing, so the audience for Suspensions, Detentions and Summer Vacations [★★★] is stuffed full of the blighters. This means we discuss the curriculum (not what most folk prioritise for a Fringe show); but it also means we hear some interesting contrasts between UK and US school systems. However, Baxter clearly loves not only teaching but also kids and their nonsense, and has some absolutely stonking material from his 12 years at the chalkface. Extra marks for observation.
Thomas Green seems to be the one that got into education because of the holidays. Originally an Aussie primary school teacher, Green can’t really be arsed with children. In That'll Teach You [★★] he includes a couple of anecdotes about his year nine kids, but you can’t help thinking if he’d been more conscientious, he’d have more stories to tell. He can’t really be arsed with his new home in Nottingham either, or Glasgow, or his Mum’s cooking, or his Gran, or women in general.
His comedy is pretty traditional, taking the piss out of easy targets, and you suspect he’s basically a boor disguised as a metrosexual. This said, what he does have in spades is solid delivery, nimbly switching voices and mannerisms as the mockery befits. However, with his Cheshire cat grin and talent for long-range flirting, he susses out straight away that this gig – populated by homesick Antipodeans and posh young drunk girls – is like shooting fish in a barrel. Could try harder.
Vivienne Acheampong is the one who watches you like a hawk. Rainbow Class [★★★] oozes primary school so strongly you can almost smell the play-doh. Surrounded by a range of flashback inducing props, Acheampong becomes all the characters from Tiddlesworth Primary School, from two-faced Kiwi headmistress Mrs Lomax, to disruptive pupil Ty Quan, to the mildly racist midday supervisor. Her non-teaching portraits are funny and varied, and her staff bristle with the kind of jargon that tells you this woman is the real deal.
As a sketch show, it showcases Acheampong’s versatility and ability with accents and mannerisms, although with gentle humour rather than uproar – except for one creation. Miss Frimpong, the aggressive recorder teacher, deserves a show of her own. Like a rare Pokémon, she appears out of nowhere, reduces everyone to tears of laughter, then disappears on the count of three. Solid work, shows promise.
Orlando Baxter: Suspensions, Detentions and Summer Vacations, Pleasance Courtyard (Attic), 3-29 Aug (not 15), 7pm, £6-10.50
Thomas Green: That'll Teach You, Gilded Balloon at the Counting House (Attic 2), 3-28 Aug (not 15 & 22), 8.30pm, £5-7/PWYW
Rainbow Class, Assembly Hall (Baillie Room), 4-28 Aug (not 13), 7.15pm, £6-11