Groping for Words is a warm comedy about an adult literacy evening class run by the middle-aged and well-meaning Joyce. She knows that teaching adult literacy requires tact and respect – unfortunately the only room that was free for her evening class is the crèche.
For her students, even admitting which class they want to attend is agonising, let alone being confronted with the written word. Thelma works as a nanny and her employer wants her to teach her charges to read, but there’s a danger the three-year-old will get ahead of her. George’s family have moved to Australia and he’s lost his job, and is finding that his employment prospects are limited. And Kevin the young stand-in caretaker keeps turning up to the class.
Townsend records their embarrassment and life-long difficulty with sensitivity and humour, as well as inflecting the play with an indignant condemnation of the society which has abandoned the illiterate. Groping for Words was first presented in 1983 at the Croydon Warehouse Theatre.