Theatre review - A Perfect Stroke

A Perfect Stroke is part of the Play, Pie and Pint season. Picture: Facebook

A Perfect Stroke is part of the Play, Pie and Pint season. Picture: Facebook

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IN AN age when sexual relations between teacher and student have become absolutely and rightly taboo, Johnny McKnight’s new lunchtime play for the Play, Pie and Pint season – first presented as a fragment at the Tron, and due at the Traverse from tomorrow – boldly goes where few would now dare to tread, into an exploration of the undoubted sexual frisson that can arise between an attractive teacher, and a young pupil.

A Perfect Stroke - Oran Mor, Glasgow

****

Over a memorable intense and perceptive 50 minutes, Anita Vettesse plays Ms Stone, a tired and possibly lonely drama teacher who inspires her pupils at the cost of her own emotional and physical exhaustion. So when 16-year-old Thomas arrives for a post-school tutorial session on how to present Romeo’s great “But soft what light from yonder window breaks…” soliloquy, she perhaps sends out some dangerously mixed signals to a boy at an explosive age. She certainly seems sharply hostile to Thomas’s loud perma-tanned girlfriend Carly, hilariously played by Dani Heron.

When the situation gets out of hand, though, and Thomas attempts a clumsy kiss, the relationship between student and teacher suddenly shifts. A tense and frightening power-struggle develops, as Thomas threatens Ms Stone with exposure, and reveals himself as a disturbed and desperately vulnerable boy. McKnight’s script is both sharp and tender – brilliantly observed. Anita Vettesse and Scott Reid are superb in the two leading roles. And the play leaves some uncomfortable questions unanswered about how, if we are sexual beings, we can ever completely exclude sexual feelings from the teaching situation, without lying both to our young people, and to ourselves.

Seen on 31.03.14

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