The History Boys at The Churchill Theatre

The History Boys

The Churchill Theatre on Monday 27th April 2015.

For a play that was last year voted the ‘Nation’s Favourite Play,’ I’m sure this show needs no introduction however if you are like me, the play (and the film) have managed to pass you by then let me give you a brief introduction.

The play is set in the 1980’s and follows a group of History students who are studying for the Oxbridge exams. As the director’s note in the programme acknowledges ‘the play does not present realism…their take on sexuality too liberal for the time. There is no bullying in the group…by freeing itself of realism the play is able to take a microcosm of the time and place and allow us to see relevancies that stretch far beyond it.’ (Kate Saxon). The show deals with a wide range of topics – homosexuality; teacher/pupil trust (and breach of it); death and approaches to education to name but a few.

One topic in particular is dealt with in an interesting manner, Hector (played by Richard Hope) ‘fiddles with the boys’ whilst riding his motorbike, the boys seem to accept this as do the other staff at the school. Richard Hope, coupled with the excellent writing of this piece, delivers such a rounded portrayal of this figure that you actually seem to like the character, even though you feel that this goes against right/wrong. This an interesting concept, as Irwin (played by Mark Field) is constantly telling the boys throughout the show to question the accepted perception and I find myself questioning if I have just sat through a production that Irwin himself would have loved. On a more jovial note this show took me right back to my English and History A levels and roused some laughs with the name dropping of various universities.

The production itself was very slick with a single set meaning the piece could develop a steady pace and burst of 80’s music in the scene changes to help focus your mind on when the play is set.

It is difficult to single any actors out as it is such a group effort. We did have the understudy for Dakin on (Matthew Durkan) and I have to say I would not have been able to tell that he was the understudy had I not seen the programme. His arrogance as Dakin was perfect as he still remained likeable and the tension simply sizzled between him and Irwin. Steven Roberts also seemed a natural in the role of Posner and you developed a great amount of empathy for him, especially where his unrequited love was concerned. It is lovely to see a young group of talented actors on stage and judging by the programme at least 6 of the cast graduated within the last 3 years.

I would recommend a trip to the Churchill this week to see the show and for those further afield to try to catch it later on the tour. As I mentioned earlier I had not seen this play before and interestingly neither had any of the other bloggers I attended with. We all seemed to be of a similar generation and when the play came out I was probably too busy at university myself to watch a play about getting into University. Hopefully this tour will bring this play to a new generation of potential History Boy fans.

The History Boys runs at the Churchill Theatre until 2nd May at 7:30pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees. If my review has enticed you to the Churchill then quote ‘HISTORYPACKAGE’ for a Band A seat, programme and drink for £25. (Band A seats normally £25/£27 depending on night)



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