Review: The History Boys at the Kings Theatre, Southsea

Rehearsals for Hedda Gabler by The Bench, April 2018. Picture by Jacquie Penrose PPP-180504-122002006

REVIEW: Hedda Gabler at The Spring Arts Centre in Havant

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Set in the 1980s, The History Boys tells the tale of a class of Sheffield boys applying to Oxbridge.

The boys show such sincerity in each of their coming-of-age stories and eccentricity in their classes that you cannot help but laugh along with them and feel genuinely moved by their progress.

At the heart of the play lie disturbing attitudes from teachers that used to be more common – behaviour towards students that is now considered sexual abuse. With information given by the boys in passing, you almost think you’ve misheard or misunderstood until the truth is finally made clear.

Richard Hope’s character, teacher Douglas Hector, is undoubtedly a criminal by today’s standards.

Yet Hope’s Hector is filled with so much gusto, passion for the arts and genuine desire for his students to be cultured that it is incredibly difficult to call him such.

It’s not difficult to see why such a thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud funny play has won multiple awards in its time. Until Saturday.

ROSIE WIGGINS