The History Boys. Read the first night review...
THE HISTORY BOYS - report from the first night, Thursday 13 December
This evening was the first in the near sell-out run of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys. With some big names on the cast list expectations were high and the audience was not disappointed. Though the era of schools having a specialism has passed and ours in the Performing Arts is no more, our passion for theatre and music is as vital as ever. Our Drama Studio, the permanent legacy of our specialism, is the perfect space for smaller, intimate productions for which only simple sets and modest casts are required. So it was that those of us fortunate enough to be there tonight shared in a most beautifully produced, sensitively interpreted and lovingly portrayed presentation of this delightful piece. The students worked together supremely well; it was obvious that they had, over the months of preparation, become a tightly-focussed team; there was an ease and naturalness of delivery which was engrossing, and which allowed Bennett’s frequent quips and witticisms to flow to optimum effect.
One could find much to write about the performance of each character. It was a special pleasure to welcome Rory Bluff back to our stage, and to savour once again his special gifts. Playing Hector, Rory’s part allowed him to explore the more serious, more intense aspects of his range. Particularly moving was the Hardy scene; in this Rory gave us some precious moments of great beauty. This was impressive acting.
The other parts were played by current Sixth Formers. Alistair Brown played the struggling, hapless Irwin, eventually and inevitably revealed as a bogus alumnus of Corpus Christi, or perhaps of Jesus. Daniel Wade provided some priceless moments, all enjoyed by the audience, as the Headmaster - in intellectual power and vocabulary awkwardly conscious that he was no match to the boys and their scholarship teachers. Tess Stephan-Rowlatt, the sole actress in the cast, portrayed Dorothy Lintott perfectly; her character’s weary, cynical and defeated mien came over with compelling authenticity and the character's fruity language was delivered with ease, shocking us as Bennett intended. Dominic Bellamy found just the right balance between campness and sadness in his portrayal of Posner, his love for Dakin hopelessly unrequited. Harry Jervis, as Dakin, was fabulous - here funny, there sophisticated and intellectual - and the denouement where he reveals to Irwin that he knows his secret was entirely convincing, it's pathos touchingly conveyed.
The entire cast triumphed in this production. It goes down as one of our very finest and most memorable Sixth Form plays.