Posts Tagged ‘jamie parker’

In February 2020, a month before the lockdown due to Covid-19, I went to the theatre to see a live performance of The History Boys. I had never seen the film but the live show captivated me so much that I decided I must see the film as soon as I got chance. Being in lockdown for several months certainly gave me that chance!

Set in 1983, the film revolves a group of working class, high achieving schoolboys who have stayed on an extra term at their grammar school in Yorkshire, in order to be coached for the Oxford/Cambridge entrance exams. Their teacher, Hector (Richard Griffiths) has some unorthodox teaching methods, but the boys enjoy his classes. He also gives the boys lifts home on his motorbike, and touches them sexually, but despite this the boys like and respect him. However, the headmaster (Clive Merrison) doesn’t like Hector’s methods, and his suspicions about Hector’s behaviour leads him to employ a young teacher named Mr Irving (Stephen Campbell Moore) to tutor the boys instead. Mr Irving is less about educating the boys academically and more about teaching them how to present themselves and interview well, so that they stand out among other candidates. The two different teaching methods clash, and the boys are caught in the middle, although the teachers do learn to respect each other.

This is a play charged with sexual tension – not just in the case of Hector as outlined above, but also with one of the boys having unrequited feelings for another, and another of the boys feeling curious about his feelings for Mr Irving.

To put it bluntly, this film is brilliant and far better than I expected it to be, even though I went in with high expectations. It’s an interesting film, because it refuses to cast Hector as a villain, despite his sexual touching of the boys in his charge. His behaviour is obviously inexcusable and completely wrong, but what this play does is show it as part of Hector’s character, rather than the entirety of his character. (Please don’t misunderstand, I am in no way defending what he does, but I do think that this portrayal is brave and unusual.)

Griffiths and Moore are both excellent. Unsurprisingly, so is Frances De La Tour as the only main female role – an intelligent teacher annoyed at being sidelined by her male counterparts, and probably the most clear headed of the teaching staff.

The boys are played by Samuel Anderson, James Corden, Dominic Cooper, Andrew Knott, Russell Tovey, Jamie Parker, Samuel Barnett and Sacha Darwan, and each brought a distinctive and relevant character to the screen.

One of my favourite films of the year, and highly recommended.

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This stage production of the romantic comedy was performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in 2009, and was first televised in 2010.  I watched the televised version, although I would have loved to have been in the actual audience at the theatre.

The story revolves around a young man called Orlando, who falls for Rosalind, daughter of the former Duke of Arden, who has been usurped by his own brother.  The former Duke has gone to live in the forest of Arden with some of his followers.  Rosalind was kept at the court of the new Duke, due to her friendship with her cousin Cecilia (daughter of the new Duke).  However, when Rosalind is exiled from the court, Cecilia decides to go with her, and together with Touchstone, the court fool – who they take along for entertainment purposes – the two women head off into the forest, with Rosalind disguised as a man named Gannymede, and Cecilia disguised as a poor lady named Aliena.  When Rosalind meets Orlando, he does not see through her disguise, and she agrees to train him to woo Rosalind properly.

There are other stories contained within the play – other romances, and a great deal of comedy – but the story of Rosalind and Orlando is the main plot.

This particular production, directed superbly by Thea Sharrock, was a delight from beginning to end.  It was filled with sparkling wit and humour, and all of the players were fantastic, although I would make special mention of Dominic Rowan as Touchstone – he had some of the best lines (and some of the best moves!) and he didn’t waste them.  Laura Rogers was also a stand-out as Cecilia, who for the most part was a supporting character to Rosalind.  Rosalind herself was played with verve and wit by Naomi Frederick, and the scenes with her and Jack Laskey as Orlando, were wonderful.

I always think that Shakespeare’s comedies should leave you feeling great, and with a smile on your face, and this one certainly did that.  I have not mentioned everyone who impressed, because to do so would mean naming the entire cast!  Suffice to say that not one of them disappointed.  The music was also wonderful, and the ending was filled with energy and joy.

Without hesitation, I would recommend this production to anybody.

Year of production: 2009 (first televised in 2010)

Director: Thea Sharrock

Writer: William Shakespeare (play)

Main cast: Philip Bird, Gareth Bennett-Ryan, Sophie Duval, Naomi Frederick, Brendan Hughes, Jack Laskey, Tim McMullan, Jamie Parker, Laura Rogers, Dominic Rowan


Click here for my review of the 2006 film adaptation.

Click here for my review of As You Like It at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in May 2013


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