|The History Boys|
"The History Boys" Arden Theatre Company September 24 - November 1, 2009
The bar has been set. Standards have been determined by the headmaster at this all-boys preparatory school set in the north of England in the 1980's. It's Oxford and Cambridge or bust. It is a far cry from "No Child Left Behind."
The Arden Theatre's latest production of Alan Bennett's "The History Boys" is an intense marathon that requires and demands your complete attention. Director Terrence Nolan orchestrates a marvelous cast with a majestic precision that allows the show to flow smoothly and efficiently. His bold direction and keen eye for talent guarantees the success of this production.
Frank X portrays the roles of Hector, the eccentric and lovable English teacher, with absolute mastery. His presence on stage is undeniable and he is at his lovable best when trying to guess the movie scenes being acted out by his admiring students.
Matthew Amendt (Irwin), Maureen Torsney-Weir (Mrs. Lincott), and David Howey (Headmaster) all compliment Frank X and each other wonderfully as fellow staff members at this highly-driven institution of learning.
Michael Doherty (Posner) shines in his role as the shy, conflicted loner who struggles to find out how he fits in with the rest of the boys in his class. And what a class it is! The rest of this ensemble cast features Chris Bresky, Brian Cowden, Ankit Dogra, Peterson Townsend, Evan Johigkeit, Matt Leisy, and Jonathan Silver. This high-powered group provides an intellectual pace that is intense.
Scenic Designer David P. Gordon has provided a set that is light on props and heavy of functionality, which is absolutely necessary to maintain the tempo of this production. Scene changes are frequent but unobtrusive thanks to the cleverly choreographed set changes. Sound and Projection Designer Jorge Cousineau, with an assist from Music Director Daniel Kluger, offers a unique array of scene change music that most definitely adds to the seamless transitions.
Lighting Designer F. Mitchell Dana gets an assist for providing an ending that is powerful and effective. His final lighting cue packs a serious punch and requires no words from the actors.
If there is to be a criticism of this show, it is to be found in its length. With a running time of 3 hours and 10 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission, it is difficult for the audience to maintain the level of attentiveness necessary for such an industrious undertaking.
However, "The History Boys" forces you to reevaluate the purpose of education. Is it a means to an end or is it preparation for the journey of life? This show will go a long way to providing an answer to that question.
Kudos to Mr. Nolan and the cast of "The History Boys." "No audience member left behind."
Why you may want to see this show? You admire exceptional acting and impeccable direction.
Why you may not want to see this show? You are a sprinter who struggles to run a marathon.