The first thing to say about Chris Woodley’s play Next Lesson is that it is very good. An A+, 10 out of 10, top marks, gold star and any other educational phrase that can be applied to 75 minutes of how relationships work: mother to son, teacher to pupil, friend to friend and lover to lover.
With the time frame cleverly revealed by one of the actors erasing the year on a blackboard and replacing it with the next year relevant to the characters’ stories, the pace of the play is superbly directed by Andrew Beckett. The place a high school. This is Thatcher’s Britain. Section 28, the impact of the Admiral Duncan bombing form part of the story. There is a link to Shakespeare’s The Tempest; there is a synergy between new and old in Next Lesson.
The actors all play multiple roles and it is to each of their credit that when part of their roles examines determination of sexuality and sexual awakening, the play becomes emotionally charged and the power of confession is beautifully handled.
Woodley also looks at the art of compromise, snobbery, acceptance and playing it safe. Staged in Above The Stag’s new studio theatre space, the performances here continue to draw good audiences and rightly so with Next Lesson being a very good example of what the new Above The Stag theatre venue is all about. Education has never been better.