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The History Boys - The Crucible Sheffield - Crumpled, queer and grumpy!

Published by: Paul Tyree on 23rd May 2013 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree

The History Boys

by Alan Bennett

Crucible Theatre 

Playing until 8th June

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Alan Bennett's The History Boys reaches Sheffield after being performed all over the world, but here for the first time it's being performed in the city that it's set. It reaches us weighed down with accolades, awards and expectation. That it is a wonderful play is in no doubt and the text does indeed inform us of how great this play may well have been in previous incarnations.
Sadly for its home town, however, this new production by the Crucible has all the sense of finding a rather fusty 2nd edition of a great work in a book shop and wondering what finding a first edition might have felt like.
Matthew Kelly is no more than adequate in the previously lauded part played by Richard Griffiths and indeed you feel the ghost of Mr Griffiths looming large over all of this production. If Matthew Kelly is trying to channel the spirit of Mr Griffiths he does a poor job and yet you feel had he tried to make the part truly his own then he might actually have got somewhere. Frustratingly he is no more than crumpled, queer and grumpy, leaving you wondering as to why anyone would be inspired by him as a character. The boys all perform adequately, but again no one really stands out.
The true pity is that this can obviously be a great play but it would only be made great by the performances. In terms of theatre this play is very solid indeed, but it is no more than that. Alan Bennett has crafted a 'proper' play, but then again that is his job love. It is down to the actors and director to truly bring something fresh to the text and lift it above the norm and unfortunately this is one where you can definately hear the cogs whirring. I've never seen the play before but funnily enough it felt like I had.
The first twenty minutes were barely audible, the middle was brilliant and the ending was decidedly flat which means that work should definately be done in the coming weeks for this play to truly acheive its potential. The fact that none of the cast were projecting and therefore everyone was struggling to hear in the beginning is unforgiveable. A real disappointment.  Complacency - Out vixen for you are the death of theatre!!

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Thu 23 May 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Fri 24 May 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Sat 25 May 2:30pm   £15.00 Book Tickets
Sat 25 May 7:30pm   £21.00 Book Tickets
Tue 28 May 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Wed 29 May 2:30pm   £15.00 Book Tickets
Wed 29 May 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Thu 30 May 7:30pm Audio Described, Signed £19.00 Book Tickets
Fri 31 May 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Sat 1 Jun 2:30pm Captioned £15.00 Book Tickets
Sat 1 Jun 7:30pm   £21.00 Book Tickets
Mon 3 Jun 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Tue 4 Jun 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Wed 5 Jun 2:30pm   £15.00 Book Tickets
Wed 5 Jun 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Thu 6 Jun 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Fri 7 Jun 7:30pm   £19.00 Book Tickets
Sat 8 Jun 2:30pm   £15.00 Book Tickets
Sat 8 Jun 7:30pm   £21.00 Book Tickets




The Crucible is the main producing venue in the Sheffield Theatres complex. On occasion, the Crucible hosts touring work. The Crucible is also the home of the annual World Snooker Championship.
The performance area is a thrust stage which extends into the auditorium, enabling the audience to watch the action on three sides. No member of the audience is ever further than 22 metres from the stage, and the sightlines are excellent, offering equality of experience across the auditorium.

  • 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield, S1 1DA, South Yorkshire , United Kingdom
  • Box Office: 0114 249 6000 


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Sorry to hear this fell flat, Paul. Thanks for your review.
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