Gotcha

Barrie Keefe

Reading University Drama Society

C Nova

From 14 August 2013 to 26 August 2013

Rating: ***

Review by Robin Strapp

Staged in the tiny studio space at C Nova, which adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere of the play, Barrie Keefe’s 1976 play Gotcha is updated to the present day in RUDS's powerful interpretation, which is simply staged.

Megan Turnell is the angry, failed, feral student Kid whose last day at the academy is today and has, against every school rule, left her motorbike in a stock cupboard.

The sadistic, authoritarian PE teacher Tom (Gabriel Burns) is having an affair with his colleague Lynne (Jenny Hope) but he now wants to end it because of his wife and children.

They have arranged to meet in the stock cupboard and are discovered in a compromising situation by Kid who is brooding over her damning leaver’s report.

She is determined to wreak her revenge and threatens to blow up the petrol tank on her bike. She holds her teachers as hostages and insists that the pompous Head, strongly played by Nick Askell, joins them and, don’t we hate his arrogance, he doesn’t even know the Kid’s name.

What follows is a tense dramatic exposition of their predicament revealing personal fears, ambition and the failure of the education system to meet the needs of less able pupils.

The moment when the Kid breaks down and bursts into tears in the arms of Lynne is most moving and the final violent dramatic ending is disturbing.

The acting throughout is strong and committed with each character fully rounded. Changing the gender of Kid to a girl is perhaps a little less successful.