Tuesday, 13 December 2005

To Miss With Love, Store Room, Dec 13, 2005

To Miss With Love  
Written and performed by Christina Adams
Store Room, Fitzroy Nth, until Dec 18, 2005

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

If you are, or have ever been, a high school teacher, Christina Adams’s docu-comedy, To Miss With Love, will be all too familiar. It is a laugh-out-loud identification theatre for teachers – or anyone who was ever attended a high school.

Adams manages to effectively combine direct address to the audience with reconstructions of classroom and staff room incidents.

The audience is sometimes addressed as recalcitrant students or members of staff, at others as if in a lecture on the first year out teacher.

The writing, by Adams, is witty, unaffected and well observed. She uses slide projections to display fabricated statistics about the first year teacher: “82% of first year teachers enter a classroom believing they are prepared and confident.”

In the classroom scenes, she shifts effortlessly between herself, the teacher, and some archetypes of Australian students. Mario is Italian, seductive, uninterested in learning but obsessed with Holden cars.

The Year Sevens are enthusiastic and motivated while the Year Tens are lethargic, moody and hormone charged.

Her characterisations of recognisable students are hilarious. We see them manipulating the teacher, avoiding work, taunting each other and staff, using their mobile phones for ridiculous reasons and trying to somehow make school the life they want.

Adams’ depictions of older teachers are scathing. She is particularly harsh on those who criticise the new teacher and judge her on the behaviour of her boisterous class.

The anxious principal who is nervous speaking to groups, is a delightful, impotent, sniffing character.

Her portrayal of the school camp is frighteningly accurate and reveals an embarrassing moment for her in front of the students.

The voice-overs of school principal and students are often funny and allow other characters into the space without Adams being required to inhabit them.

Although there are other, more theatrical ways to present this material, Adams, with director Monica Dullard, finds an engaging, direct style that allows us into the school environment and the teacher’s psyche.

Adams obviously loves her mad, bad and silly Year Tens But students can be cruel to teachers. To Miss With Love is a very fine teacher’s revenge.

By Kate Herbert

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