Arundel’s History Boys learn life lessons in sixth-form

The History Boys. Picture by Nigel Cull
The History Boys. Picture by Nigel Cull
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The Arundel Players bring Alan Bennett’s The History Boys to the stage for the Arundel Festival.

Directed by Dawn Smithers, the production opens at The Priory Playhouse Theatre, London Road, Arundel, on Saturday, August 20, and runs for eight nights until Saturday, August 27.

The History Boys, which was acclaimed both on stage and in film, is set in a boys’ secondary school in the north of England in the 1980s. It follows a group of eight history pupils under the guidance of three very different teachers preparing for the Oxford and Cambridge entrance examinations.

In addition to the eight sixth-formers, the cast includes Hector, the eccentric, veteran teacher (played by Stuart Smithers) who believes that exam preparation is the enemy of education. He wants the boys to learn information and skills that will benefit their development as men.

Felix Armstrong, the headmaster, is played by Roger Booth. He is thrilled that the eight sixth-form boys have achieved such excellent A-level scores. He brings in Irwin to give them some polish as he believes education alone is not enough to gain entrance into Oxford or Cambridge.

Irwin, played by Tony Bright, is a young, savvy supply teacher who wants the boys to focus on making themselves appealing to the Oxbridge examiners. He trains them to look at historical facts in a detached and critical manner.

Mrs Lintott, played by Rosey Purchase, is the history teacher who has quietly and steadily been teaching the boys everything they need to know to excel academically.

The eclectic group of eight pupils consists of: Scripps (Ben Michael), an Anglican student and the most religious in the class; Posner (Ben Cassan), a Jewish boy and the youngest in the class; Dakin (Matthew Hughes-Short), the most confident and handsome boy in his class; Timms (Harry Rippon), who is overweight and plays the role of the class clown; Crowther (Alfie Lixton), who has a notable acting talent; Rudge (Matt Bonner), the sportsman of the group; Akthar (Harvey Bolton), who has a Muslim background and Lockwood (Sam Standen), who is confident and argumentative.

Directed by Nicholas Hytner, The History Boys first opened in London in 2004 and went on to win a host of awards. Its Broadway debut was in April 2006. The film version, which was also directed by Nicholas Hytner, was one of the top ten films of 2006.

Performances start at 7.30pm, tickets are £14 (members £12) and are available from the Arundel Players box office on 07523 417 926. Alternatively, go direct to www.ticketsource.co.uk/arundelplayers.

To find out more about Arundel Players, visit www.arundelplayers.org.uk. To become a member and have access to priority booking, contact secretary@arundelplayers.or.uk.

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