Home » Reviews » Off West End » Staffroom, Tristan Bates Theatre

Staffroom, Tristan Bates Theatre

Presented by Time2Shine Productions
Written & Directed by Rachel Creeger

Pros: Great audience interaction, some good individual performances and impeccable production values.

Cons: Feels a little low on energy and pace, missing the spark that would make it great.

Our Verdict: A good show which may well become great as the run progresses.

Courtesy of Time2Shine Productions

The Tristan Bates never ceases to surprise me, if nothing else, by its very existence. Tucked away between Covent Garden and Cambridge Circus, it would be very easy just to completely miss this ‘thorn in the side of the West End’, as it has been touted. This week, we saw Staffroom in this venue, a new play written and directed by Rachel Creeger as part of the Camden Fringe. So how did it fare?

Staffroom deals with the trials and tribulations of a group of teachers in a school for problem children. The play describes itself as a dark comedy, and indeed it touches on some difficult issues, although perhaps does not delve into these in enough detail. The action is told as a series of vignettes separated occasionally using monologues from the characters. The action flows fairly smoothly, although at times it feels like this piece of new writing could use a more distinct plot arch to keep the audience engaged.

One aspect of this show which cannot be faulted is the quality of the production values. The set – a staffroom – is immaculately designed and very detailed. The entire show is exceedingly well lit, and costumes are naturalistic and fitting. Hats off to the design team for a textbook job.

In terms of performances, there are some great individual moments. Nick Skaugen is a particular standout as Simon, a trained actor turned teacher, who injects a lot of comic energy but also delivers a powerful emotional scene. Brede McDermott also has some great moments as Ellen, a busy-body teacher who struggles with her troubles both at home and at work. Another strong point for this company is the audience interaction, with several hysterical moments being created by audience members having to get involved.

Despite all this however, the show overall feels a little low on energy. There is an element of chemistry which is not quite there yet, and is required for the show to go from good to great. We hope that this will come naturally to the cast as the run progresses, but as it stands, the show could use a little ‘oomph’.

Overall, Staffroom is a well-executed production, which provides a good evening of entertainment. Although it is still lacking a little in pace and energy, it’s a promising start.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Staffroom runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre until 25th August 2012. 
Box Office: 020 7240 6283 or book online at http://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/

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