City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The History Boys, King's Theatre, Review

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 18 March 2015

Show Details
King's Theatre
Sell a Door Theatre Company
Kate Saxon (director); Libby Watson (designer); Chris Davey (lighting designer); Matt Eaton (sound designer)' Catherine Jayes (musical director); Bronagh Lagan (associate director)
Steven Roberts (Posner), Kadar Williams-Stirling (Dakin), Alex Hope (Scripps), David Young (Rudge), Patrick McNamee (Lockwood), Sid Sagar (Akthar), Joshua Mayes-Cooper (Timms), Matthew Durkan (Crowther), Mark Field (Irwin), Richard Hope (Hector), Christopher Ettridge (Headmaster), Susan Twist (Mrs Lintott), Melody Brown (Fiona)
Running time: 

Alan Bennett is the darling of British theatre and The History Boys, a comedy-drama, is one of his most popular plays. First performed at the National Theatre in 2004 it subsequently became a hit in the West End and on Broadway. It also won the Olivier Award in 2005 for Best New Play and the Tony Award for Best Play in 2006.

A semi-autobiographical play it is set in the eighties in a fictitious school in the North of England and centres round a group of bright sixth form obstreperous youths, who, along with the headmaster, have aspirations to go to Oxbridge.

It takes a while for the play to gather momentum as the script is wordy. But as it is set in a classroom where teachers encourage discussion and lateral thinking - that is acceptable. And Bennett is adept at portraying the banter confident youths display towards their teachers whose shortcomings are amply illustrated in the play.

Hector, a suppressed married homosexual who gropes the pupils [Richard Hope gave a marvellous performance of this dissatisfied character who pours his passion into literature education]; the ambitious headmaster hell-bent on getting the school up the league tables which is why he brought in the young supply teacher Irwin and Mrs Lintott, dissatisfied at being overlooked because she is a woman.

The play, like hormones in adolescence, twists and turns. The actors who portrayed the disruptive pupils did so with great aplomb particularly Joshua Mayes-Cooper as Timms; Steven Roberts as Posner, who performed some entertaining cabaret acts accompanied Scripps, played by Alex Hope, who is also a talented pianist, and Kedar Williams-Stirling as Dakin – who flaunts his sexuality in every direction.

The stage setting looked chaotic but perhaps that was to mirror the emotions displayed in this entertaining play which is full of humour and pathos.

Wednesday 18 to Saturday 21 March, 7.30pm (Saturday 2.30pm)