Teachers struggle with school too

Those Who Can't, Teach, shows us the stories from both sides of the classroom.

Poon ChengEe

Published: 10 March 2017, 3:17 PM

Produced by The Necessary Stage, the restaging of playwright Haresh Sharma’s much loved theatre classic, Those Who Can’t, Teach, brought us back to the good old days we spent in school.

Set in a fictional Marine Parade Secondary School, the cast of veteran theatre names, such as Siti Khalijah Zainal, Karen Tan and Joshua Lim, switched between the roles of overstretched teachers and troubled students with ease.

Presented through a series of flashbacks shown from the teacher’s and student’s perspectives, we were treated to a platter of relatable – and at times, cliché – issues, such as office politics between teachers, and boy-girl relationship woes.


Mrs Phua (in green) scolding her students in class.


Those Who Can’t, Teach mainly revolves around the struggles of a devoted teacher, Mrs Phua, (played by actress Karen Tan) and a difficult student, Teck Liang (played by actor Joshua Lim). Overwhelmed by the pressure to manage her class of diverse students, Mrs Phua gradually neglects the need to care of her mother, who suffers from dementia.

Teck Liang is your typical troublemaker who talks back at his teachers and skips lessons. Despite his good grades, he finds it challenging to adhere to the rules set by his school.

Things took a turn for the worse in school after one of the teachers’ personal photos was leaked to the class. Teck Liang ends up being blamed for the situation, despite knowing the real culprit behind it.


Teck Liang (left) getting blamed for the leaked photos.


Throughout the play, we were impressed with how each cast member switched between playing stereotypical teacher roles and relatable student profiles effortlessly.

The strict teacher reminded us of the times we cowered in fear, and we empathised with the weak kid that struggles with his assignments.

We were also delighted by the snippets of office politics that took place in the staff room – who would have known that teachers could be so sassy!

The standout act for the evening had to be Siti Khalijah, she took up multiple roles, such as Teck Liang’s mother and the popular student, which she pulled off convincingly.


Siti Khalijah (right) left us in stitches when she acted as the popular kid in school.


The play might have ended without much closure, but it left me with plenty of questions that picked my brain. It had me thinking about the sacrifices our teachers have made, and whether good grades should be the only end goal for students.

Most importantly, Those Who Can’t, Teach did a fairly decent job in portraying in the most light-hearted way, leaving us with lessons to mull over long after the play has ended.

Those Who Can’t, Teach is now showing at the Drama Centre Theatre till Mar 19, 2017. Tickets are available at SISTIC.

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