NODA review of The History Boys

Performance: 22nd March 2013

Review by Don McKay

A very professional welcome from the Front of House Team. The open stage displayed a typical classroom in the era in which Alan Bennett’s brilliant “The History Boys” is set. This set was extremely well designed by Matthew Baker and Sam Turton, and equally well built and managed by Gerry Stafford and Team. I really liked the picture wall, by Scenic Artist Derek Bunyard, which kept me occupied in the interval. The Lighting Design by Alex McKenzie was effective, and well executed by  James Doughty, as was the Sound by Sandy Allen-Rowlandson and Joseph Barnett. The excellent costumes were put together by Virginia Pope. The overhead projections were a nice touch and served well to cover passages of time.

This great play by Alan Bennett, with it’s mix of high comedy and pathos, could easily be a disaster in the wrong hands, however I am happy to say that under  Sam Turton’s excellent direction and equally excellent casting, this was quite the opposite. Every one of the eight young men in the cast played it for real, and resisted the temptation to go over the top. Matthew Baker in the difficult role of Hector, and I say difficult because although endearing, he does abuse his position of trust, Matthew, with the aid of the brilliant script, managed to pull it off admirably. Alistair Coombes gave a very good performance as the young teacher Irwin, and Peter Allen was great as the exasperated Headmaster. Ruth Ivey was good as the only female member of the cast, but could have relaxed a bit more, having said that I believe this was her first role and I was impressed at the emotion showed towards the end of act 2.

This was a very good Production by Sharnbrook, that was well received by the audience.