What does a high school look like from the perspective of its teachers? The Faculty Lounge, written by former schoolteacher Teri Foltz and now playing at Oil Lamp Theater in Glenview, sheds light on this question as it depicts the interactions of five faculty members in a high school teacher’s longue. Directed by Oil Lamp Theater executive and artistic director Keith Gerth, this production is sweet, funny, and moving.
The teachers of The Faculty Lounge represent a diverse range of age, gender, experience, and subject matter, but all are united by their mutual desire to be the best educators they can. The story begins when the student newspaper asks each of them to write an essay about why they became high school teachers. The device is a little heavy-handed, but it works, especially as the answers the teachers come up with are complicated and honest, rather than blandly inspirational.
Indeed, the thick vein of verisimilitude running through the play is its strongest feature; there’s a genuineness to the script and its characters that is irresistibly inviting. That, plus the entertaining and honest dynamic among the group of teachers, is the core of the play, and it makes up for some of the script’s flaws, which include a run time about half an hour longer than necessary and the occasional veer in tone into “after school special” territory. It’s also a bit strange that the program comes with a list of scene titles, much like a musical comes with a list of songs. It makes it far too easy for a bored audience member to mentally tick off the scenes as they happen.
Still, the script is funny. The cast has a solid sense of comedic timing, and there are many laugh-out-loud moments peppered throughout the show. The acting overall is good, although a little less nuanced than one might like.
The play is rather too big for the space; that is to say, the scenes are split between the eponymous faculty lounge and a classroom, and because the stage at Oil Lamp is deeper than it is wide, the lounge has to be upstage of the classroom, which leads to odd stage pictures wherein students silently doing stage business upstage the teachers having a conversation behind them. A more ideal setup would have the lounge and classroom side-by-side, but it’s just not doable on that stage.
The lighting and sound design are very basic; the lighting is adequate, but the sound is lacking, with noticeably poor audio quality on the pre-recorded announcements.
It must also be mentioned that all performances include complimentary cookies and that the snickerdoodles in particular are delicious.
The Faculty Longue is a play with heart. Although it might not have the resources for impressive design work, the characters are charming and the story is meaningful. This faculty lounge is definitely worth a visit.
Dates: Thursday, June 22 – Sunday, August 6, 2017
Schedule: Thursdays through Sundays. Evening performances at 8:00pm, Sunday matinees at 3:00pm.
Location: Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview
Tickets: All performances $35. Group and student rates are available. Tickets can be purchased at 847-834-0738 or at the Oil Lamp Theater website.
All photos by Tony Duvall.