In this small upstairs theatre, we are taken back to childhood and enter the classroom of Miss Margarida.
Based on the original play by Brazilian playwright Roberto Athayde in 1971, the play sees us degraded, bullied, bombarded by two Miss Margarida’s who, are not by any stretch of the imagination, model teachers. There is a sense of oppression, and this is what Athayde had meant for: a satire on the dictatorship in his country, formulating this insistence from an early age in society.
5Go have decided to split the character of Miss Margarida, mirroring one another but in some moments showing some kind of alter-ego; not much different from each other but often one is highly sexually charged, the other much the disciplinarian. There is a lonely school boy on stage – often positioned in previous version within the audience, he takes a small but central role in Miss Margarida’s affections and spite. However, having him on stage but the Miss Margaridas mostly addressing us felt a little disconnected and would have helped the fourth wall break if he sat with us or not be there at all, as majority of the insults were thrown our way, but not his.
Unaware of this play before entering, I did wonder what I would encounter. When 2 hours of insults, of repetition on sexual education, on religion could sound tedious, it was very easy to watch and often provided comical moments, mostly at the audacity and sheer gumption of Miss Margarida and her opinions and views; I imagine, exactly how Athayde intended the play. It flowed smoothly, picking up and becoming hyperreal in moments, making this timeless and appropriate for any era, not just in Brazil in the 1970’s. We feel very under-fire, very spotlighted, sometimes quite literally with lights shined upon us, often something felt with oppression. But it did take some time to change tact, which is perhaps a criticism more of Athayde’s writing than it is of this production.
Miss Margardia’s Way by 5GO is well constructed, delivered well but there are moments of disconnect between audience interaction and the characters as well as taking quite a lot of time to pick up momentum in the narrative.