Sunday, 23 July 2017

REVIEW: Staff Room at The Bunker Theatre


My first trip to ‘The Bunker Theatre’ and I instantly felt right at home. This cool, underground, gem of a venue is a welcome haven to the hustle and bustle of London Bridge. Within 5 minutes of arriving I already wanted to come back.

‘Staff Room’.. What can I say? Three Teachers. One Staff Room. There’s not much else to it really. This play really does speak to the Netflix generation. It plays out like a sitcom on stage, a series of short scenes with bursts of conversation from the 3 teachers; Alison (Hilary Murnane), Hugo (Craig Webb) and Ria (Faye Derham).

With a minimal set consisting of 2 chairs, a small sofa, a table covered in papers and other accouterments one would expect to find in a Staff Room. The back wall is covered like a noticeboard in various sheets of paper, one of which is situated above a tea tray and reads; ‘THE CLEANING FAIRIES DON’T WORK HERE!!!’. The actors really are exposed without any elaborate set or gimmicks to hide behind.

Murnane and Derham’s characters were extremely likeable and were played excellently by both. They brought a lot of laughs but also in their step-out monologues a lot of heart. Webb’s character on the other hand was very one-dimensional. This was not down to his performance, which was excellent, but down to the writing. I was hoping to learn a bit more about Hugo and was left feeling a little disappointed when he didn’t really bring anything more than some witty one-liners to the play.

The Parents Evening scene was very well done, when each teacher gave their different perspective on various students. The three actors came together beautifully here, intertwining their conversations with superb comedic timing.

The audience was fully enamored with the 3 excellent players and quite rightly so. The performances were excellent, my only fault would be that I wanted more from the character of Hugo. If you are heading up to Edinburgh this August be sure to catch this fun and hilarious piece. With huge twangs of nostalgia each character reminded me of a teacher from my own school days, and I don’t doubt for a second it will do the same to you.

Review by Bryan Mennings 

Rating: ★★★
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