Saturday, 14 September 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: The History Boys - The Studio, Widnes.



Presented by Northern Comedy Theatre, 'The History Boys' is about a group of bright boys in a grammar school who are preparing for Oxford and Cambridge entrance exams. They are taught by three teachers, one named Hector an eccentric, Irwin a supply teacher, who has ambitions to become a permanent member of staff and employed by the head to give the boys the “polish” needed at interview and Mrs Lintott, who taught them history lower down the school.

The play starts with Duran Duran’s Rio, a classic 80’s hit blasting out and the boys boisterously entering the classroom with their teacher Hector played by Ray Sutton who gave an excellent performance as an endearing character with a font of knowledge, for their Literature lesson. The eight boys are cast well in their roles and all gave believable performances allowing their characters to show through. Particular notable performances from the boys were Kieran Maleedy as Dakin whose character was of an extremely confident young man who has a way with the ladies and later it would appear some of the male cast too come under his charms, but nothing materialises there. Elliot Bailey who played Scripps gave an excellent narrative to parts of the play and Posner as the youngest member of the group, a sensitive Jewish boy who is gay and has a crush on Dakin, is portrayed well by Ben Knowles with a sense of vulnerability and confusion as to who he is. Mrs Lintott was played by Kathryn Chambers and gave a good performance as the only female in the cast, her character is dry and very practical.

The whole of the play is set in a classroom and although the scenery was quite simple, it didn’t distract from the characters but depicted a typical classroom back in the day and scenes were changed with good use of the lighting and iconic music from the era. The lighting was also used effectively when Scripps and Lintott were narrating.

I thought the play was excellent; there were elements that had the audience laughing out loud, especially the scene where they were with Hector acting out being in a French brothel and all speaking French. Other parts of the play were quite thought provoking as the characters moved towards their final school days, and at the close Mrs Lintott in a narrative as to what the future held for each of the boys.

I really enjoyed the performance and would thoroughly recommend it for a good evening’s entertainment. Many teachers out there would certainly understand some of the staffroom politics portrayed as well.

The venue itself, The Studio was an old Sunday school and is intimate and friendly. Managed by LOOSE, it has the community at heart and wants to bring all types of arts to the centre. There are excellent free parking facilities just minutes' walk from the venue and lots of projects that people can get involved with.

Reviewer - Catherine Gall
on - 13/9/19

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