Review: The History Boys

The History Boys is highly-regarded as Alan Bennett’s finest work, it’s a tale of schooldays but not of the Waterloo Road kind.

Having spent time at an all-boys school myself I found Bennett’s characters extremely lifelike, you’ll find many that you’ll remember too. The teacher with the off-beat teaching methods (Hector played magnificently by Richard Hope), the new younger teacher who plays it by the book but hasn’t really totally grown up himself (Irwin, Mark Field).

The-cast-of-The-History-Boys.-Photo-Credit-Darren-BellThen there are the pupils, Posner (Steven Roberts), the boy who doesn’t quite fit in and who is struggling with his own sexuality, Dakin (Kedar Williams-Stirling) the boy who is popular with the ladies (and maybe the boys), Rudge (David Young) the boy you want on your football or rugger team but who never quite excels in the classroom.

Alright some of the characters are stereotypical but they are all recognisable.

The story follows a class of boys, all in their final year and hoping to get the grades that will take them to university. Hector however is more interested in teaching them the more off-beat things that will benefit them in life. He carries out his classes behind locked doors so as to not be disturbed. He’s that fun teacher who’s lessons were always enjoyed by all and who teaches you without you realising you are being taught to.

However does Hector have a dark secret? And for that matter does the young whipper-snapper teacher Irwin have something to hide or something that he is yet to discover? In fact there are many secrets yet to be uncovered.

The History Boys started as a stage play which subsequently was made into a tv movie (including many of the original stage cast). There have been numerous productions over the years and it is fair to say that many of the previous cast have gone on to bigger things, James Cordon, Russell Tovey and Matt Smith. It’s highly probable that this some of this touring cast will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors.

A worthwhile night out The History Boys is at The New Wolsey Theatre until Saturday 28th March, 2015. Box office 01473 295900, online


Mark Keable, Ipswich24