Class @ Traverse Theatre
Parent-teacher meeting goes awry in this disappointing three-hander
Parent-teacher meetings are often fraught with anxiety, but in Iseult Golden and David Horan’s Class, what should be a simple discussion after school goes horribly wrong. A pair of estranged parents, Donna (Sarah Morris) and Brian (Stephen Jones) are summoned to meet Mr McCafferty (Will O’Connell), who teaches their eldest son, Jayden, and so begins a battle of wills as educator and guardians turn themselves inside and out seemingly over what is best for the child.
Golden and Horan’s play is at its heart, a story of power, shame and perhaps, more importantly, society. It’s a powerful three-hander that sees every character battling to not only be heard but also to be understood in a world, that has, for many reasons, left them behind. It comes as no surprise then that the piece is less about the children (although they do appear in a series of jarring and somewhat unnecessary flashbacks), and more about the adults and their often-complicated feelings towards one another.
What holds Class back from fully exploring its rich themes and the social hierarchy, not just within the school, but in the wider world outside of the building, is its form. The scenes with the children, while often comedic, do nothing for the narrative, and while the play seems torn between comedy and tragedy, there’s a sense that it’s not quite sure where it’s going, except, for a time, round and round in circles as the characters pull themselves from one misunderstanding to another.
However, it’s the ending of Class that disappoints the most; a rushed-dramatic affair, it is a clunky and heavy-handed finish to a play that initially showed great promise.
Class, until 27 Aug, Traverse Theatre, various times,£20.50 (£15.50)
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