It had been a while since I’d last been to the theatre; needless to say I was excited for what The History Boys had to offer. Having heard that the show was coming to Theatre Royal, I went in with a mostly open mind not knowing what to expect from this particular production. The History Boys is about a group of bright, funny and unruly sixth formers in pursuit of sex, sport and a place at university.
Before the show had actually started, the scene was being set. Classic 80s anthems like ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby?’ and ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ were blaring out of a speaker system at least a good fifteen minutes before the lights went down. The audience loved it and it really got us in the mood for the play. When the show started, it was fun and energetic right from the start. The 80s music continued and the stage lights flashed as the actors entered the stage. When the school scene started, I couldn’t help but start missing my own school days – the scene was believable enough that for a moment I did think I was looking into a class of disruptive school kids. The headmaster, played by Christopher Ettridge fully captured the essence of a secondary school headmaster – or at least the self-indulged and egotistical stereotype of a headmaster.
Issues such as education, identity and sexuality were all touched on in a sincere yet comic way. The relationship between all the actors felt genuine, like a proper group of school friends. Standouts would have to be Dakin (Kedar Williams-Stirling) and Posner (Steven Roberts), the unrequited love from Posner to Dakin is a heart-breaking yet hilarious thing to watch. A nice break from all the boys was Mrs. Lintott (Susan Twist) adding a strong and much needed feminine touch to the production. It was as if Twist was the only female character on stage; Melody Brown’s Fiona seemed like a throwaway character, and although her interactions with Dakin were quite funny, they were all ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moments which need not be included.
The History Boys was an interesting watch and everything ran smoothly for the opening night, although at some points it was hard to hear the actors without the use of microphones. Apart from that, the production felt polished yet still had a sense of believability to it. If there’s anything that could be learnt from the production, it’s the importance of being an individual and striving for your own personal goals even with all the external forces trying to influence you.