Christopher Sharp reviews ‘The History Boys’; the latest FECCLES production
The air was warming in theatre of the Performance Centre as the lights went up for the opening night The History Boys, the latest dramatic production by FECCLES.
This, however, would be The History Boys with a difference with a simple yet effective gender reversal; all the male students were played by female actors. This, as well as the stage layout provided intrigue; the stage fragmented into two distinct sections, the Headmaster’s Desk and the classroom. The student’s classroom provided two tables of four on either side of Hector’s nominated position. This created a triad effect and from the elevated viewing position an idea of hierarchy was implied. Associated with this was also a sense of adolescent disrespect with the student’s backs to Hector providing another physical show of disrespect towards the educational and hierarchical system that our eight protagonists abhorred.
Not all the roles were reversed however, Patrick Liddle, Axel Carlson and Thomas van den Heuvel performed Irwin, Headmaster and Hector respectively while Rebecca Stewart performed Mrs Lintott to the letter. Yet, while this kept with the inclusive philosophy of FECCLES, it might have improved the aura of the general performance had there been a complete gender reversal.
Nevertheless, for an opening night in the midst of March when nerves a high and deadlines frightfully near a good show was had; Ellie Brewster and Brie Angel Bill-Eteson’s Dakin/Posner play off worked systematically well in the midst of Liddle’s well-played Irwin.