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The History Boys

And now for a bit of culture - and a topic i may revisit as i now become obsessed by all things History Boys. I just got back from seeing the national touring production of this play and I absolutely adored it from start to finish. As i knew I would...


I first read about The History Boys about a year or so ago and decided to order the book of the play. I really liked it - it definitely makes you think and I, of course, identified strongly with the character of Posner and his unrequited love on one of his schoolmates.

As with all of Alan Bennet's plays, it is a study of Englishness or more particularly the English education system. Different teaching methods are enshrined in the three main characters - Mrs Linnot, Hector and Mr Irwin - and this sets up a dialogue about truth, the function of knowledge and how history is made.

But the History Boys is far from didactic. The writing touches on the humanity of the characters and the complexity of the issues. Orlando Wells and Stephen Moore were particularly excellent as Irwin and Hector - the first tasked with getting the boys through exams, the second professing a horror of formulaic teaching methods. Hector is a brilliant character who you really feel for - and its interesting that the boys want to get on his motorcycle even though they know he will act inappropriately with them...



The play has many moments of great comedy, sometimes in the witty incisive dialoge and sometimes in the reactions of the cast (and audience - i never heard such a sharp intake of breath from the woman behind when Mrs Linnot calls the headmaster a c***wipe!!). But my favourite characters had to be the excellent Steven Webb as sensitive outsider Posner and his cocky big-man-on-campus crush Daykin, played by the aesthetically pleasing Ben Barnes. And what a beautiful relationship they had...

Ultimately, i wanted to watch it all over again as soon as it had finished (something that only usually happens with Love, Actually) - a wry and touching piece that forces many questions but provides few answers - yet is somehow incredibly satisfying :)

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8 Comments:

  1. xolondon said...
    can't wait for the movie of this!
    PinkieDust said...
    I found this play riddled with stereotypical English sensitivities. The idea that the meaning of history is constructive left me wondering if Alan Bennett's world had ever recovered from the 1950's. In other words, his direction is totally outside the current stasis of history which must now be understood as deconstructive by force. it is only constructive through liberalism and power.

    But that remains to be the context. The prose stinks of hyperbole and polemics which of course will get any English Auden queen throthing at the mouth...but for me such ploys assume the audience is pert for manipulation. Something of which I detest. Even so I do believe, like absolutely everything Alan Bennett touches, History Boys remains beautifully written.
    PinkieDust said...
    I see that your into your musicals/plays...and as I've taken sooo much from you in the past I thought you might like this:

    http://www.sendspace.com/file/b29xei

    Its the new Disney The Little Mermaid Soundtrack from the new Broadway stage production that starts next year....enjoy!

    Its just vocals and piano at the moment but expect this to be huge!
    xolondon said...
    that's quite an assessment Pinkie!
    Paul said...
    wow- interesting critical analysis pinkie (i love the idea behind your blog by the way) - irespect any opinion thats as thoughtful and well constructed as that. I still loved the play, would see it again and can't wait for the movie :)

    what i do owe you a big thank you for is the little mermaid demos - it is my favourite disney film after Beauty and The Beast and they sound gorgeous. i owe you! that made my early saturday morning :)
    Robpop said...
    I missed this when it was on at the National. Isnt one of the boys from an old pop band(in the original production/movie version)

    Thanks Pinkie for The Little Mermaid. Its my favourite Disney movie.
    Paul said...
    not sure rob - i'll check that out. was going to do a write up of daddy cool but am really tired, so check back tomorrow everyone for two posts!!
    freddy said...
    How coincidental - I am seeing the play here in the States this upcoming weekend. Thanks for posting about this, Paul! :)

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