NODA Review for The History Boys ...

Show Report

The History Boys by Alan Bennett is set in the 1980s and tells the story of a group of sixth-form students preparing for the Oxford and Cambridge entrance examinations.

Hector, their maverick English teacher who delights in knowledge for its own sake, is at odds with a young supply teacher, Irwin, hired by the headmaster to introduce a rather more cynical and ruthless style of teaching in the hope of boosting their results and so moving up the league tables.

The stage at the Guildhall is very small but the set was very cleverly designed so as to incorporate all the various scenes of action and the additional use of excellent video sequences brought another dimension to the play.

The four main members of staff were all superb.  Mik Horvath was totally convincing as the domineering headmaster, Thomas Farthing, as Irwin, managed to capture the mixture of brashness and insecurity of the character perfectly and as the only female teacher, Miss Lintott, Verna Bayliss was terrific.

Terry Stevenson as Hector was outstanding.  He has a brilliant charasmatic stage presence and skillfully portrayed the charm and wit, the anguish and sadness of Hector that lurked beneath his pretentiousness.

The eight young actors playing the sixth formers were without doubt, absolutely brilliant.  They were completely absorbed in their individual characters and so self assured and confident they were just 'awesome'!

Three stand-out performances among the boys, came from Joseph Riley as the sexually precocious Dakin, Matt Powell's interpretation of the sensitive and vulnerable Posner was excellent as was that of Harry Gibson as Scripps, who also proved to be a superb pianist!

The musical numbers and the acting-out of classical movie scenes were all first-rate.  I would like to 'pass on' my congratulations to Barry Taylor and his team for bringing together such as amazing group of exceptionally talented people to perform what was an entertaining, thought provoking, funny and profoundly moving production.

Professional Support for Amateur Theatre

Reviewed by: Joyce Handbury

Date: Tuesday 18th November 2014

The Guildhall Theatre, Derby

Type of Production:

Producer / Director:
Barry Taylor


Review - The Derby Telegraph

Theatre group goes for gold with classic play

FOURBLOKES Theatre Company has gone for gold, adapting contemporary classic The History Boys by the peerless Alan Bennett.  The result is an astonishing achievement.

The production follows a history class preparing for Oxbridge entrance exams.  The haughty headteacher prizes results above learning, hiring keen young teacher Irwin to boost pass rates.  Irwin's intellectual teaching style inevitably clashes with Hector, an eccentric who believes that teaching is about lifelong learning, not passing exams.

What begins as a finely observed examination of teaching styles and school friendship dynamics takes an apocalyptic turn as unbearable events come to light.

This is a production best left unspoiled, although the play deals with horrifying events with sensitivity, understanding and exceptional characterisation.  The audience is left to judge for themselves throughout, emerging at the end stunned, captivated and utterly moved by a production directed with consummate finesse.

Every performance is so polished and assuredly confident that the boys are all exceptional, especially Joseph Riley's charismatic Dakin, Harry Gibson's Scripps and Matt Powell's vulnerable Posner, and teachers Irwin (Thomas Farthing) and Mrs Lintott (Verna Bayliss) provide excellent character counterpoints.

That Terry Stevenson's towering performance as Hector still commands your respect and admiration for this character at the end speaks volumes.

This is a powerful, unflinching, honest drama.  Prepare to have all your preconceptions challenged by one of the most fearless productions I've ever witnessed.  Unmissable.


Kevin Redfern | Derby Telegraph | Thurs 20th November 2014



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