Thoroughly enjoyed the History Boys at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on Thursday. It’s on national tour. The acting was uniformly good and James Byng who played Posner was great with a lovely voice and good movement on the stage. The set was used to good effect, with a backdrop of pencil drawing of the school on graph paper, which worked well, and desks tables well well used during scene changes. The choreography and attention to details were good. Low point was having our interval drinks swiped—all that was there was the paper note, no drinks, but the theatre soon replaced them.
One of the great plays of the decade, The History Boys is set in a school in the North of England where a boisterous bunch of bright, funny sixth form boys are attempting to gain entrance to Oxford and Cambridge whilst fending off the distractions of sport and sex. In Alan Bennett’s much-loved play, staffroom battles and the anarchy of adolescence provide a rich vein of comedy.
The History Boys opened in May 2004 at the National Theatre to rave reviews and a sell-out run, going on to become one of their biggest ever hits, winning no less than 30 major awards including both Olivier and Tony Awards for Best New Play. In 2005, a film was made with the entire original cast, many of whom have subsequently become household names. This will be the first major revival of the play since the original National Theatre production.
Alan Bennett is one of the most distinctive voices in British theatre. Wry and tender, his impeccably observed plays include: Talking Heads, Single Spies, Enjoy, Habeas Corpus, The Madness of George III and The Lady in the Van.
Barrie arranged tickets for a group of us to go and see the Cambridge Footlights Spring Revue: People Watching. We had a few drinks to get us in the mood, and the atmosphere in the theatre was buzzing. The five cast were good—Will Seaward as an Angel was magnificent and I enjoyed Adam Lawrence’s animated jiggling style, which was very different from What’s Wrong with Angry! The writing wasn’t great—nothing edgy, no barbs, no politics, all quite gentle. A bit too much reliance on shock-words, which bordered on the distasteful. The unscripted errors with the curtain and one of the cast having a fir of giggles were high points. I did like the sketch about making a fishing documentary—where the movie exec was keen to have beautiful mermaids—with legs (and wanted an action thriller rather than a documentary)! Adam Lawrence in a yellow parker was slow motion fishing with his net when he was attached by the two leggy mermaids, slapping him around the face with fish, then Will Seaward entered with a fish mask on, semi naked, and shot him! It was great. There were some genuine laughs, and the Apocalypse theme worked well. Quite a few of the sketches didn’t deliver at the very end—the duck sketch was a great lead up, but failed to follow through.
From the ADC Theatre web site: Footlights Spring Revue: People Watching by Ben Ashenden, Mark Fiddaman and Alex Owen
The Heavens have been watching us. God isn’t happy. In fact, he’s so completely fed up that he’s decided enough is enough. Welcome to the sketch show that marries certain doom with reckless levels of funny.
The world-famous student comedy club brings you one of its’ biggest shows of the year. The Footlights Spring Revue is one of the most exciting and eagerly anticipated comedy events in Cambridge. It has sold out for the last four years in a row, and People Watching promises to be another smash hit.
All performances of People Watching are now sold out. A limited number of tickets may be available in the box office just before the start of each performance.