TimeLine Theatre has announced a six-week extension of its production of The History Boys, Alan Bennett’s drama set at a British boys’ school. Originally scheduled to close on June 21, the show will now continue through August 2. Running a serious show in the dog days of summer is a risky move, but one the TimeLine folks evidently felt was justified by ticket demand.
An Olivier Award-winning London hit in 2004, The History Boys swept the Tonys when it appeared on Broadway in 2006, winning best play, best direction, and best actor among other awards. So it was a surprise to some when the play’s Chicago premiere was snagged by TimeLine–which is housed in an intimate auditorium in a Lakeview church–rather than a big-name, big-budget company like Steppenwolf or the Goodman. But Nick Bowling’s staging does justice to the play with an imaginative environmental design and beautifully nuanced performances by a mostly non-Equity cast.
Now, a personal plea: will TimeLine or some similarly fine company please fit Julian Mitchell’s drama Another Country into its schedule? The play, about a rebellious gay student at a 1930s British boys’ school, was a London hit in the early 80s, launching the careers of Kenneth Branagh, Rupert Everett, and Daniel Day-Lewis. But as far as I can tell it’s never been produced here professionally. Like The History Boys, it would be a superb vehicle for young actors.