Written by playwright Alan Bennett, History Boys, set in the 1980s is centred on the pupils of Cutler’s Grammar School, a fictional all boys’ school. The piece focuses on the pupil’s preparation for the Oxford and Cambridge entrance examinations and shines a light on the array of teaching styles offered by the likes of Hector, the school’s headmaster consumed by the idea of moving up on the league tables, Irwin a conservative and cautious supply teacher and Hector, an enthusiastic teacher driven by thoughts and poetry…
The piece is immersed in metaphor making for a sharp tongued and witty performance, which I felt the Sell a Door theatre company bought to life. I felt the cast; especially the boys worked well together to bring a jovial energy as well as a human element to a piece mainly based on an otherwise robotic education system. The conflict between the teachers differing teaching styles served as a comical element to the piece, especially when it came to them discussing their true feelings on the education system in the staffroom. The piece constantly stirred up debates on certain issues from what makes for the perfect teaching style, to whether you train for your own aspirations or for others imposed aspirations. The piece for me however was very slow and I didn’t warm to it as much and therefore I give History Boys a 3/5.
Written by Alan Bennett
Directed by Phillip Rownstree
Performed at Sell-A-Door Theatre