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Reviews London TheatreOWE & FringeReviews Published 20 November 2017

Review: The End of History at the Tristan Bates Theatre

November 14 - December 2

The Room meets Grange Hill: Iain Hollingshead and Timothy Muller’s new high-school musical gets an F- from Francesca Peschier.

Francesca Peschier
The End of History, Tristan Bates Theatre. Photo: Ana Paganini.

The End of History, Tristan Bates Theatre. Photo: Ana Paganini.

Ofsted Report for The End of History

Information about this Inspection

  • The End of History uses a history GCSE class as metaphor for 20th-century international relations
  • This involves a lot of singing about the League of Nations
  • As the analogy is stretched out over a two-hour show (including through the exam-paper program), it seemed appropriate to extend it to include this review, presented as an Oftsed Report

Summary of Key Findings

  • Due to an entirely inconsequential plot, audiences endure an endless summary of international relations through song and Fosse-inspired routines (that bear uncomfortably resemblance to our inspector on her fifth sherry when someone inadvisably puts ‘Razzle-Dazzle’ on). The idea is to align the teenage students’ personalities with countries geo-political approaches, a nifty little device for showing childish personality politics, but a completely pointless one when there is no overlap between the two characterizations.
  • Singing through the syllabus aside, the events that befall our plucky teenagers tick every ‘issue’. Revenge porn! Drugs! Trashing the house at a party by very carefully throwing some paper cups and unopened bags of crisps! Special mention to the poor girl who passes out in the playground clutching her tiny bottle of vodka. Though her friends fail to wake her, she appears in the next scene, unharmed, and the event IS NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. It’s The Room meets Grange Hill.

Effectiveness of Leadership and Management

  • We are deeply concerned that Iain Hollingshead (book & lyrics) is a real-life history teacher, as all evidence points to him never having met a teenager in his life. With such authentically adolescent dialogue as “Geography is bare jokes” featuring heavily in the show, it is suggested that Hollingshead refer to more primary sources. In return, we will agree to never again mention the rap battle at the end of Act One.
  • This also follows for the lazy stereotypes that flood this musical. Box-cutter wielding delinquent Gary is a cookie-cutter hoodie straight out a private-school imagination. His redemption comes from his having a breakdown and going to therapy. That Gary, who is apparently poor and, it is heavily implied, lives in a home plagued by domestic violence, manages such a turnaround over one short summer is nothing short of an NHS waiting-list miracle.

Personal development, behavior and welfare

  • There is a bright-eyed desperation to the cast, who sing as if their lives depend on it (maybe they do; next performance, blink twice for help). This mainly means it is very loud – not necessarily good, but very, very loud.

The school has the following strengths:

  • Timothy Muller has written couple of good tunes. They would be massively improved by being instrumentals.

Report Summary

Category 4: The End of History is not fit for purpose.

The End of History is at the Tristan Bates Theatre until December 2nd. For more details, click here.

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Francesca Peschier

Francesca is a freelance lecturer, reviewer, and AHRC funded PhD student at University of Arts London. where her research examines the relationship between scenography and identity in Liverpool. A former model maker and set painter, she still manages to keep her place on the Society of British Theatre Designers committee. She is the founding editor of JAWS, the Journal of Arts Writing by Students published by Intellect. When not writing about or watching theatre she concerns herself with running a croquet society and back-combing her hair to desired Dolly Parton heights.

Review: The End of History at the Tristan Bates Theatre Show Info


Directed by Jessica Dawes Harrison

Written by Iain Hollingshead, Timothy Muller

Cast includes Joseph Aldous, Anya Williams, Alexandria Anfield, Sylvie Briggs, Charlie Burt, Joshua Lewindon, Daniel Orpwood, Eleanor Shaw

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