Skip to content


The History Boys

3 starsAt Greenwich Theatre, London; run ended
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

Alan Bennett’s The History Boys makes a return to London, as Sell a Door stage the capital’s first professional production since the National Theatre’s West End runs.  With a solid cast, and a particularly robust performance from Amanda Reed as Mrs. Lintott, Sell a Door tackle the well-loved piece admirably. Bennett’s trademark humour is matched with complex characterisation, making for an entertaining and touching evening of theatre.

The inherent theatricality of the classroom setting lends itself well to the stage, but the challenge posed by static nature proves a little too much for director Phillip Rowntree – who fails to take the opportunity of the crucial scene between Dakin and Irwin to close the physical distance between the two characters and create the necessary intimacy. Instead, the pair spend what should be a highly-charged scene speaking to each with the safe distance of the classroom between them.

The script picks up a lot of the directorial slack, but has its own oddities, the flash-forward between Irwin and the now-reclusive Posner being an obvious example of an idea that doesn’t quite land. This production places the argument between teachers Hector and Irwin very much at the centre of the action, meaning Hector’s flaws are forgotten a little. It’s perhaps an over-simplistic look at his character.

To truly master the challenges of the script, the company could aim for a speedier pace, and simpler, less clumsy transitions between scenes. Taking on such a well-known and lauded piece is a brave undertaking, however, and Sell a Door do get away with it – albeit that there’s still a little room for improvement.

<< The Hound Of The Baskervi...   Mudlarks >>