Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review of Eclectic Full Contact Theatre's The History Boys

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The History Boys. It was by Alan Bennett, and it was directed by Katherine Siegel. It is about a teacher named Hector (David Belew) who worked at a British all-boys school and he teaches everyone's favorite class, General Studies--which basically means you learn a lot of important things in a fun way and then goof off. The boys are all trying to get into Oxford or Cambridge. They have two main teachers who are trying to help them out with this, Hector and Irwin (Justin Atkinson). The difference between them is that Irwin thinks that the only thing that matters is the results and Hector thinks the only thing that matters is the process of learning. And together they make some pretty smart people. It is not just about the teachers. The show is also centered around the students' experiences. Posner (Joshua Servantes) is trying to figure out his sexuality and basically figure himself out. Dakin (Mathias Blake) is pretty darn sure of himself, and he needs to learn to respect other people. Scripps (Taylor Sorrel) is the narrator and is struggling with religious belief. It is about education, hormones, and identity. I thought this was a fun but also distressing show. It was fun because of the relationships, but distressing because everyone was very messed up.

I thought that all of the scenes had great character connections. All the boys seemed like they had known each other for years and the new teacher, Irwin, seemed so confused around this sea of hormones and hyperactivity. I feel like you really get to see how close the boys are in the scenes with Hector. They all seem to know exactly what each other's sense of humor is and what they can do to make the others laugh. They had this tradition where they would take a movie and reenact one scene from it and see if Hector could guess what it was from. Of course, Hector was very knowledgable and knew most of the movies, but sometimes he would trick them and pretend that he didn't at first. They did a scene from Now, Voyager featuring Timms (Stephen McClure) and Lockwood (Matthew Harris) which was hilarious. They are two people who are very passionate about each other. The way Timms said "love" when he, as Charlotte, said "People who love you" was so shaky and regal at the same time and it was super funny. Lockwood was trying to be very very stoic and Lockwood did not really seem that way, so the result was that hilarity ensued. This scene showed how connected the boys were to each other and to the teacher because they have so much fun together and enjoy spending time together. That made the end all the more sad.

Posner has had a huge crush on Dakin, and Dakin knows that he does but he doesn't really seem to be mad about it or think that it is unusual. I think that relationship was very intriguing. Even though Dakin is not very nice to Posner about his affection for him, he isn't homophobic. Dakin basically never seems to take anything seriously and he uses the fact that he thinks everyone is attracted to him aggressively. He becomes a lawyer for a living which makes a lot of sense because he tricks people into being on his side even when it is not the right choice. Posner, however, doesn't seem to do as well as Dakin in love and life. He seems to be a really good person; he is nice and smart, but for some reason no one seems to care. And Posner, even though he likes Dakin, doesn't get the fairy tale ending he wanted. He gets something like it, but not what he wanted.

There are four different views on education in this play. The headmaster (Andrew Pond) thinks that all teaching should be very strict and precise. He seems to think that there are teachers and there are students and they cannot become friends or be on the same level. There is also a same-level teaching style; it is to become best friends with all of his students and have a blast all day, like Hector! This kind of closeness may lead to inappropriate relations, which is a problem with it, but it doesn't have to be that way if the teacher doesn't allow it. You can also be a parental figure like Dorothy Lintott (Lisa Savegnago). She seemed to be the sweetest teacher in the school and celebrates her students' ups and helps them when they are down. And then there's Irwin. Well, all he seems to care about is getting his students into a good school. I don't think he really wanted to befriend any of his students. It kinda seemed like he teaches for himself to get a good reputation. But by the end he seems slightly swayed by his students to become friends with them. I agree with Hector that learning should be fun and with Dorothy that you should be nice but also give students hard work, but I also agree with Irwin that sometimes you have to learn things that aren't fun for the sake of your education. I don't agree that you should lie if you are trying to get into a good college. I think you should tell the truth (which Irwin doesn't) because if the school doesn't agree with you, you don't want to go to that school.

People who would like this show are people who like unrequited crushes, different thoughts on education, and reenacting movies. I think people should go see this show. I think this is a great play and this production has a lot of really talented actors in it. I really enjoyed it.

Photos: Ian Smith, Katie Hunter

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