The action of the play takes place in Cutlers’ Grammar School, Sheffield, a fictional boys’ grammar school in the north of England. Set in the early 1980s, the play follows a group of history pupils preparing for the Oxbridge entrance examinations under the guidance of three teachers (Hector, Irwin and Lintott) with contrasting styles. Hector, an eccentric teacher, delights in knowledge for its own sake, but the headmaster ambitiously wants the school to move up the academic league table; Irwin, a supply teacher, is hired to introduce a rather more cynical and ruthless style of teaching.
Hector is discovered sexually fondling a boy and later Irwin’s latent homosexual inclinations emerge. In this play the character that I feel most sorry for is Posner. Posner is a sensitive gay boy from Sheffield. He has a hopeless crush on Dakin. This focus in the play is universally acknowledged, and in a strange way universally accepted by Dakin. However, Dakin has a crush on another girl. This isn’t good for Posner and he feels sad about this. We know this because he says to Irwin, “if I can get into Cambridge, maybe Dakin might love me. Another reason why I feel sorry for Posner is because he’s quite shy and lacks confidence. Furthermore Posner is often held back and restricted by his family. Also when Posner starkly revealing say on page forty-two that, “I’m a Jew…I’m small…I’m homosexual… and I live in Sheffield. This shows that he’s quite depressed when reflecting on his life. He might be depressed because can’t get off with Dakin or because of family life. Towards the end of the play Posner says that he has no friends. This shows he’s quite depressed and this is why I feel sorry for poor Posner.