Play unites boys of the past and present

The cast of The History Boys at The Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York

The cast of The History Boys at The Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York

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Pocklington School pupils past and present are taking to the stage at The Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York in the Alan Bennett play, The History Boys.

One of the stars of the show is former Pocklington pupil Will Campbell-Burrell, from Driffield, who plays the part of Akthar, and, at the same time, is the play’s musical director.

Also in the play is former pupil Riley Anderson, from Melbourne, as Crowther, and current year 11 pupil Sam Hird, from Bubwith, as Scripps.

Even the director Robert Readman attended Pocklington school.

He said: “As an Old Pocklingtonian myself it’s been fun working with students from the school and hearing what’s changed since my days and what hasn’t.”

He added: “Sam is actually playing an older boy, Scripps, as he has a maturity beyond his actual age, while William a fantastic pianist and has to play everything from Rachmaninov to Gracie Fields.”

The History Boys, which runs for one week beginning tomorrow (February 20), was once voted the nation’s favourite play. It tells the story of eight sixth formers in a northern town who are being groomed for an Oxbridge education, including by eccentric English master Hector, who hopes that his poetry will prepare them for the ‘long littleness of life’.

The play is being staged by the Pick Me Up Theatre Company which, the week after, is putting on the Willy Russell play Our Day Out in a school-themed double bill.

And starring in that is Pocklington year 11 pupil Billy Ibbotson as Maurice, a pupil from an unruly Progress Class on a wild school trip.

Robert added: “The boys are part of two very hard-working and extremely talented casts. We have begun technical rehearsals at the theatre now and there’s an air of great excitement.

“It’s quite challenging trying to fit everyone from two shows into the dressing rooms but we’ll get there! Hopefully the props won’t get too mixed up. The shows are totally different but both are very funny with a poignant streak. Two wonderfully entertaining pieces - I advise people to see both naturally.”

Our Day Out is described as a funny and heart-warming story, in which Mrs Kay’s Progress Class are on a coach and bound for Alton Towers until Mr Briggs gets on boardand the destination changes to a zoo in North Wales - but there is no stopping the fun on a trip.

All tickets are £12 (pay and print directly from pickmeuptheatre.com). Alternatively ring 01757288248 / 0776102414 or call theatre box office on 01904 623568 or visit the website www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk