A show for the young! Teenage rebellion, staffroom intrigues, pupil-teacher rapport are all illustrated by this successful comedy about the most beautiful years of one’s life. The action is set in Cutlers’ Grammer School, a traditional boys’ grammar school in Sheffield, the north of England. The usual lifestyle – unconventional and indolent – of the history pupils, who are preparing for their university entrance examinations, is turned on its head by the headmaster’s ambition. The latter ardently wants the school to climb up the league table. The pupils’ admission to the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge universities becomes the target of his aspirations.
For this reason, he hires Irwin, a young substitute history teacher. Through his modern approach to teaching, Irwin comes into conflict with both Hector, the eccentric teacher who delights in his knowledge in front of the pupils for his own pleasure, and Mrs. Lintott, the overly-traditional history teacher. School thus becomes the battle ground of contrasting ideas about life and education.
Cynical and trenching as he is, Irwin succeeds in persuading the young pupils to approach history in a unique manner that renders studying – to the pupils’ surprise – actually pleasurable. Finally, the goal – admission to Oxford and Cambridge – is attained for the first time in the history of the college.
The History Boys. Stories from Secondary School is not only a show about history, but one meant to make history!
The play directed by Vlad Cristache is like a good movie. From the moment the curtain rises, we are engrossed in a plot that delights us until the end. We find it amusing, we laugh, only to discover what truly lies behind the contagious energy, and the smile turns into a tear. There is a smooth transition from humour and aplomb to drama; the characters develop and acquire depth, and, in the end, the whole enterprise stands tensely and limpidly before us: Live, child! And live as gracefully as you can!
Alina Epîngeac – Yorick – Youth Magna cum laudae
The “magic formula” proposed by Vlad Cristache offers a human dimension to that which is usually rigid, relies heavily on humor and on the vibrancy of the young actors who manage to revive, here and there, one’s latent adolescence. The History Boys is an unassuming play that refreshes the memory of the elderly – if they are patient and willing – and gives a sense of freedom to teenagers, who are shown a part of their own world.
Oana Bogzaru – Yorick – The adolescent soul faced with the trials of maturity
Director Vlad Cristache contrived to enliven and restore a fraction of the split-second closed-eye high school experience. And I was surprised to realize that Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, put on stage by the Excelsior Theater, lasted 3 hours, and I certainly did not miss anything of the high school experience this time. With OxBridge refinement, with a perfectly insidious sense of the tragicomical, and with striking decency (striking because it has been forgotten and undervalued, turned into an oddity in the abject consumerism of our days), Vlad Cristache has elaborated a wonderful show.
Vlad Galer – LiterNet – Boy, you’ll be a man soon
It is a true joy to attend The History Boys. Stories from Secondary School, where a team of young creators accompanied by seasoned actors, such as Mihai Dinvale, manages to foreground the idea that the years spent in school represent a significant milepost of the human universe. The action is set in an English college, not in a chaotic sheepish educational framework, but in one that communicates sensibly and provokingly the recurrent theme – mind the person by your side and the world in which you live!
Ileana Lucaciu – blog – A true joy!
Vlad Cristache, with his particular histrionic nature, “includes gentle touches that steer the action in fortunate ways, giving the plot a timely new dimension; he builds each character’s air with an attention to details that is amplified by his generosity towards the actors, which he has already shown in several of his productions in Bucharest and the rest of country.”
Mariana Ciolan – Revista Teatrală Radio – At the Excelsior Theater, the youth are in focus
The History Boys is centered on a group that typifies secondary school pupils, as it illustrates the prototypical categories – the leader, the loser, the joker, the gifted one, the geek etc. The play mounted by Vlad Cristache builds this micro-universe in an ideal classroom that looks like a library (if only it were so in real life), but which the boys use as a “stage” where they put the subjunctive into practice, as it were. The two groups – teachers and pupils – are portrayed differently.
Oana Stoica – Dilema Veche – To the teachers, with love
Director Vlad Cristache succeeds in combining the themes developed by Bennett in a fluid and coherent production. His attention to detail is revealed by small scenographic artifices. Throughout the show, I was mindful of the fan set above the stage, which goes off obsessively only during the static, laden moments. I almost forgot I spent three hours in the theater.
Ștefania Matache – Sub 25 – The History Boys or on human beings and their history
What would I say about The History Boys. Stories from Secondary School, a production by the Excelsior Theater in Bucharest, if I weren't a theater critic? Firstly, that it is a production where you feel incredibly comfortable in your seat. That, although it runs for more than two and a half hours, you almost wish it didn’t end so soon. That, in recommending it to your friends and cautioning them not to miss it, they certainly will not cast any reproachful glances at you, or ask you to reimburse them. On the contrary.
Mircea Morariu – Adevărul – Highschool years
The play Vlad Cristache directed is an intelligent, highly comical, and refreshing rendering of Alan Bennett’s text that aptly recreates the transition from adolescence to maturity, along with all the uncertainty associated with it.
Monica Ploeșteanu – LiterNet – Magnificently unprepared for the infinite smallness of the world – The History Boys
At a general level, the production and the text raise an issue that has been disputed in Romania and abroad alike. Is or should education rather be a matter of inspiration, or should it rather be a matter of information?...The History Boys is, undoubtedly, one of the most powerful productions of the season because it proposes an interesting discussion on education systems; because the entire team operates well, even very well, the performance of each individual being equally valuable.
Monica Andronescu – Yorick – Stories of secondary school or education and its limits
...Such is the scarcity of productions that filter the concerns of our world through the lens of fundamental values that the one by Excelsior must not be missed.
...Fundamental values, rhythm, truth, youth and energy. What more should a performance have in order to appeal to the public? Go see The History Boys. Stories of Secondary School. Let yourselves be carried away by its quality humour and humanistic plea. And do not be surprised if it becomes one of your favourite shows. With such productions, how can we not advocate for the young?
Cristina Rusiecki – Culture Magazine – „Yea, and I, what have I done?”: Pleading for YOU(th)
And the curtain rose. I was greeted by the most entertaining, joyous, and amusing scene I had ever seen in the opening of a production. I instantly forgot about anything that existed beyond the theater house, I began laughing after 30 seconds, I was absorbed by the atmosphere and I stayed there for 2 hours and 45 minutes. This is incredible – being pinned to my seat by a three-hour performance, holding my breath, regretting not being able to follow each of the 12 characters on stage, laughing, crying, roaring with laughter again along with the rest of the audience. In short, seeing such a refreshing performance, such sensible and airy stage design, and costumes that were so adequate and aligned with the show and the setting was a delight like no other, and an unexpected surprise.
Andreea Tănase – Semne Bune – The History Boys. Stories of Secondary School.