School’s Out

THE GREAT SCHOOL CRISIS written and performed by Ted Johns, directed by Layne Coleman. Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). Runs.


THE GREAT SCHOOL CRISIS written and performed by Ted Johns, directed by Layne Coleman. Theatre Passe Muraille (16 Ryerson). Runs to March 31, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $21-$30, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NN

Rating: NN

the great school crisis does not rise to the top of the class. It gets high marks for a double major in humanity and political concern, but its minor in theatre is just that.Ted Johns’s one-man show, directed by Layne Coleman, takes on the Tory education reforms with a shotgun approach to comedy, aiming to be satiric, entertaining and sharp, but too often ending up with heavy-handed humour and little wit.

The calibre of the comedy?

A man on workfare jokes that he wants to repair nuclear reactors and is told that “those people have their grade 12s.”

Playing a variety of male and female characters, Johns attacks Harris’s Common Sense Revolution with a bludgeon of statistics and warnings, reaching as far back as the 1840s to show the folly of a government’s ham-fisted approach to education. You might pick up some information on how the government funds schools or get a recap on curriculum shifts, but the facts are rarely presented in an involving fashion. There’s indignation here, but little drama.

And yet, every once in a while Johns surprises us. There’s a grade 11 student, wearing the uniform of reversed baseball cap and sunglasses, talking in an icy monotone about the government’s wanting kids to fail.

The final character, a woman who runs a one-room schoolhouse and juggles lessons for 50 students, has dignity and depth. Too much of the rest could be collapsed into a five-minute sketch.jonkap@nowtoronto.com

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