The History Boys November 2006, the Lowry Theatre, Salford.
‘The History Boys’
by Alan Bennett has come to the end of it’s second UK
tour which started back in August at Birmingham Rep. The adult cast has been completely changed and four of the eight boys
have been recast with a view to going to the west end in two weeks time.
Most of you will be over
familiar with the plot and therefore I shall dive straight into the review.
Stephen Moore was fantastic
as Hector. I know at WitW we focus on young talent but it would be a serious injustice to write this review and not mention
the best Hector I’ve seen. He obtains so much sympathy as the old teacher. And had much nonchalance and interest at
the same time. His eventual despair was so moving that he had me in tears much before “pass it on boys” which
is a guaranteed tearjerker line for me.
The boys en masse seem happy
as ever, and even on the end of a long tour seem fresh. The night we saw it seemed to be a ‘camped up’ run which
didn’t spoil it but energised it, making the drama even more poignant.
Orlando Wells’ Irwin
had an even younger feel than his predecessors but seemed a little uncomfortable in the skin of ‘older Irwin’
Steven Webb gave another
marvellous performance as Posner, an easier job opposite Ben Barnes playing Dakin as sexy and streetwise. His seduction of
Irwin so much better as underlying suggestion and smoother staging.
This particular night seemed
to be enjoyed by the consistently talented Thomas Morrison as Scripps the Narrator and somewhat moralistic boy! Mainly due
to a man in the audience with a distinctive laugh was picked up on by Tom and he got through one scene valiantly before running
to the wings for safety and more than likelt a good giggle!
Of the other performances
Phillip Correa as Rudge with spot on timing and a empathy that can only be induced by someone who knows they’re not
as bright as the rest. And Owain Arthur reminding me of a schoolboy prankster I knew and loved in my college days, never too
busy to make a lewd remark of pull a brilliantly timed childish prank. His favourite was to pretend to walk into doors; sadly
Timms was not required to do this!
Altogether with such a successful
play and such sturdy writing it’s easy to know when you are delivering a funny line and overdo the delivery. Fortunately
the majority of ‘Cast C’ were able to produce the right tempo and underplaying that a Bennett script requires.
I’m thrilled that this
is the cast going to the west end.