(l to r)Brett Ryback, Demond Robertson, Adam Armstrong, and Seth Numrich
Photo: Craig Schwartz 2007
I’ve missed posting about a number of theater events these last two weeks and to be honest it’s mostly because much of what I’ve seen has been OK but not necessarily overwhelming. However, there was one particular relative disappointment worth noting. Last weekend saw the opening of a local production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys
at the Ahmanson Theater downtown that will run in a limited engagement through December 9. This is a fine play and a solid British entry into the beloved-teacher/inspired-student relationship genre. Part of the real success of Bennett’s work is that it is a play of ideas but actually has a strong narrative structure. After well-received productions in both London and New York as well as a motion picture, this LA facsimile is a bit of a departure in that it does not benefit from any of the original cast or direction common to these prior incarnations. Although it does retain the sets and overall design elements seen on Broadway, this production seems more hampered by these holdovers than helped by them. A largely American cast deals with accents and plot elements with varying degrees of success over the course of two and a half hours. Unfortunately, this does end up being important, especially in terms of succeeding with some of the work's more implausible elements such as the rather elastic sexual nature of 1980s English teenage boys. Still there are some fine performances from Dakin Matthews as Hector and Charlotte Cornwell as Mrs. Lintott. Matthews continues to grab attention here on LA stages and he follows up his scene stealing contribution to the Taper’s recent Water and Power
with another commanding run here. Still, the critique of Thatcherite England falls somewhat flat here even if it is a sharp looking production with several enjoyable elements.
Labels: LA Theater Reviews