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Theatre Review: Class ***

Michael Cox reviews a production 'with three solid performances and flashes of brutal truth'.

Class, written and directed by Iseult Golden and David Horan, asks a lot of pertinent questions. Who knows what’s best for a child? Is educational jargon detrimental? What is the role of the teacher and the classroom?

Class is actually a play of two parts, both set in teacher Mr McCafferty’s (Will O’Connell) classroom. The first part is a teacher meeting that unfolds in real-time with parents Brian (Stephen Jones) and Donna (Sarah Morris), there to discuss their son Jayden. Intercut with this meeting are school scenes that take place a few weeks later, where McCafferty is running a ‘homework club’ with Jayden (Jones again) and his classmate Kaylie (also played by Morris).

By splitting it in two sections, the production offers two different plays: one about student/teacher relationships and the struggle that learning can bring, the other a look at how the classroom can be a vibrant territory to explore social issues. What’s unfortunate is that one of the sections plays brilliantly while the other offers little.

Far stronger is the real-time meeting. It is here that Golden and Horan’s script chimes with honesty and offers many intriguing moments between the three characters. Each character has a few key empathetic moments, yet none of them come across completely unblemished. The ‘homework club’ future scenes might offer clues as to what happened to the three characters after the meeting, but none of that knowledge does anything to enhance what is said throughout the meeting, and a few scenes even come across as clichéd.

It’s unfortunate that Class doesn’t completely work, but with three solid performances and flashes of brutal truth, it comes across as a solid pass rather than a distinction or a fail.

Class performs at Traverse Two until August 26. Check website for specific performance times.

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