The History Boys
by Alan Bennett
directed by Alan Patrick Kenny
New Stage Collective
The regional premiere of the wonderful ‘The History Boys’ at New Stage Collective demonstrates (again) why the small independent company deserves to be on your list.
Despite a small space and small budget, New Stage artistic director Alan Patrick Kenny loves big theatre -- hence the Cincinnati premieres of ‘The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?’, ‘Bug’, and now ‘The History Boys.’
New Stage is all about big ambition and bigger energy and Kenny does the best casting of the local indies.
Kenny delivers a smart production. Both comedy and tragedy, ‘History Boys’ is always about ‘the anarchy of adolescence.’ Kenny has the inspired idea to let the kids rock out through the scene changes, letting us see some of that pent-up energy, and anarchy.
If you like smart, emotionally satisfying theatre, smartly acted, and the sense of discovery of finding not-polished gems in unlikely places, put ‘The History Boys’ on your gotta-see list.
The History Boys makes it four in a row for wunderkind Alan Patrick Kenny of New Stage Collective. Four less similar items are difficult to imagine.
To recite: Last spring there was the mordant, terrifying production Bug. Soon followed the razzle-dazzle staging of Jerry Springer: The Opera. Lately there was an exhilarating production of Conor MacPherson’s intense Shining City, directed by Ed Cohen. Now comes the roistering local premiere of the Alan Bennett play that took six 2006 Tony Awards, including Best Play.
This is an intellectual vaudeville that uses some songs, lots of supporting music, even a casual dance or two to augment its witty examination of serious ideas. So History Boys is right up director Kenny’s alley. And what a scampering pleasure he makes of it, raucous scene after raucous scene, right up to a powerful closing moment when the boys turn “Bye, Bye Blackbird” into a singularly appropriate dirge.
Photos by Mikki Schaffner