Monday, 3 June 2013

The History Boys

As a Yorkshireman born and bred, I've always had a fondness for the work of Alan Bennett, and his play 'The History Boys' is one of my particular favourites. It concerns the trials of a groups of sixth-form students working towards the Oxbridge entrance exam in the early 1980s, the machinations of their starved-of-success headmaster desperate to enhance the reputation of the school above all else, and the conflict between the different teaching styles of Hector and Irwin.

The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield is currently showing the play, and I was delighted to be there last Friday evening. The story was well-told in this production, using music from the period to good effect and the cast to move scenery & props to change locations around the school. The cast worked well together - it was very much a team performance rather than a collection of individuals, and they were led by a brilliant Matthew Kelly as Hector, taking on the role made famous on stage and screen by the late Richard Griffiths.

I approached this performance with a little trepidation, as the film version which I'd seen previously was of such good quality that I wondered how they could possibly come up to that standard. That film, blessed as it was by so much great young talent - Russell Tovey, Dominic Cooper & James Corden to name but three, set a high bench mark for the play, but this cast came through admirably well, playing it with humour and pathos in equal measure, and engaging the audience throughout.

A wonderful production, and a great evening. Another triumph for Sheffield Theatres!