THE HISTORY Boys is a testing play for both the audience and those on stage but, if done brilliantly, produces powerful, thought-provoking theatre and that is exactly what was performed by The Norbury Players.
As you watch this production you cannot help but be analytical of the situations and theories presented to you.
It must be a difficult task for the cast as, as well as learning the usual lines customary with any play, lengthy quotes from poems and other plays are also intrinsically weaved in the plot to convey the points Bennett wanted to get across.
There were some tremendous performances on the night by all of the boys and teachers.
Simon Thompson was excellent as the evocative Dakin – one minute you could really like the character the next question his actions.
Eddie Thomas is sound as Scripps, playing the piano and singing as well as acting out the part of the popular character.
And Michael Burgess also showed his brilliance as Posner, particularly in the the more poignant moments when he sang, when he questions his sexuality and speaks directly to the audience.
Of the teachers, Ed Butler was solid as Irwin and, likewise, Martin Bourne as the Headmaster. Their portrayals led to those watching empathising with them both and the scenarios they were faced with.
And Anne Lane was strong and stirring as Mrs Lintott, especially in the darkly humorous scene where she discussed Hector’s antics with the head and, at the other end of the scale, delivering the profound epilogue at the end with perfect timing. Her character personifies the play itself and its impact – flitting between laugh-out-loud moments and scenes where you could hear a pin drop.
But the performance of the evening went to John Birchley who plays the deeply controversial Hector. The character and his methods are questionable from the off, making you question his, your own and the rest of those watching’s moral compass.
There was light relief from this intense theatre provided by the variety of carefully chosen incidental music which lyrically reflected the scene which had just concluded.
From Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax to Adam and the Ants’ Prince Charming, Baggy Trousers by Madness and more, the music also reminded you about the time the piece was set and what was going on politically and in society in the 1980s.
Plaudits has to go to director David Goode for unpicking this complex script and bringing the multitude of issues and characters together and successfully delivering it on the stage.
This is class theatre in more ways than one.
The remaining performances of the play, which contains strong language and sexual references, take place at 7.30pm tomorrow (Friday), Saturday (September 9) and next Thursday, Friday and Saturday (September 14, 15 and 16).
Tickets, which are £11 (£10 concessions) are available at www.norburytheatre.co.uk or by calling 01905 770154.