Theatre Review: The History Boys - Greenwich Theatre ✭✭✭✭

The History Boys
Greenwich Theatre

If you’ve never seen The History Boys on the stage, now is the time to do so. Alan Bennett’s hymn to education became an instant classic following its initial sell-out run at the National Theatre in 2004, and was made into a feature film in 2006 with the original cast. The play now returns to London for just a week at the Greenwich Theatre, produced by the flourishing Sell a Door Theatre Company.

Bennett’s play focuses on eight bright, unruly grammar-school boys from Sheffield trying to win a place at Oxford and Cambridge whilst navigating the contradictory approaches of their three teachers: the direct, no-nonsense Mrs Lintott, the eccentric, erratic Hector, and the young, pragmatic Irwin. As the play goes on, these varied methods push us to think about the real meaning of education; indeed, although the play is set in the mid-80s, Hector’s opposition to examination-led learning seems equally at home in these current times of arts funding cuts and Michael Gove’s Gradgrindian emphasis on the importance of facts.

Bennett’s perfectly-crafted lines have lost none of their wit since they were first performed, and the cast all make the most of every single one. Marcus Taylor was particularly hilarious as the stuffy, uptight headmaster concerned only with the school’s prestige and position in the league tables, whilst Amanda Reed was fabulously sweary as the lone female in an overwhelmingly large boys’ club. Of the students, Joe Morrow particularly stood out as Scripps, the witty, long-suffering friend of school-stud Dakin (Adam Lawrence), whilst Alasdair Hankinson was a brilliantly intense Rudge: his deadpan delivery of perhaps the most famous line of the play (‘History? It’s just one f****** thing after another, isn’t it?’) had the audience in stitches.

All in all, this is an excellent production of a hilarious and thought-provoking play. You haven’t got long to see it though – it closes on Sunday, so hurry!

4 stars out of 5 ✭✭✭✭

Review by Emma Curry

Listing Information 

GREENWICH THEATRE - 18th - 24th June 2012 
Mon - Sat @ 19:30 | Wed, Fri & Sat Matinee @ 14:30 | Sun Matinee @ 18:00 
Tickets £20; £17.50 (concession) 
020 8858 7755 - -