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The return of the National Theatre's production of Alan Bennett's award-winning play The History Boys to London
Set in the 1980s in the north of England, Alan Bennett's play charts the fortunes of an unruly bunch of bright, funny sixth-form boys in pursuit of of sex, sport and a place at Oxford or Cambridge University under the guidance of a maverick English teacher, a shrewd supply teacher - and a headmaster obsessed with results - "The school gives them an education. I give them the wherewithal to resist it. Examine a boy and he is tamed already. Only examine him and you can tax him, empanel him, enlist him, interrogate him and put him in prison. You have only to grade him and you have got him" - An hilarious and thought-provoking play that explores the anarchy of adolescence and the purpose of education.
The cast for The History Boys in London features Desmond Barrit as 'Hector', David Mallinson as 'Headmaster', Elizabeth Bell as 'Mrs Lintott', Tim Delap as 'Irwin', Daniel Fine as 'Posner', Andrew Hawley as 'Dakin', Thomas Howes as 'Scripps', Ryan Hawley as 'Rudge', Sam Phillips as 'Lockwood', Alton Letto as 'Akthar', Danny Kirrane as 'Timms', Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as 'Crowther', Lennox Greaves as 'TV Director' and Amanda Reed as 'Make up Lady' along with Gabeen Kane, David Osmond and Adam Foster. Originally directed by Nicholas Hytner, recreated by Simon Cox (2006) and Paul Miller (2007), with designs by Bob Crowley, lighting by Mark Hendeson, video by Ben Taylor, music by Richard Sisson and sound by Colin Pink. The cast for the 2006/2007 fun featured Stephen Moore, Isla Blair, William Chubb and Orlando Wells with Owain Arthur, Ben Barnes, Philip Correia, Marc Elliot, Thomas Morrison, Akemnji Ndifornyen, David Poynor Steven Webb, Ben Allen, tina Gray, Derek Howard, Duncan Patrick and Stephen Uppal. Originally staged at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in May 2004. PLEASE NOTE: This production contains strong language and therefore parental guidance is advised for children under the age of 14.
"An award-winner at the National Theatre, The History Boys has since triumphed on Broadway, toured Britain and Australia and been filmed with its original star, Richard Griffiths, as rebellious teacher, Hector. Hector believes that examinations are the enemy of education and that the boys' time is best spent learning the songs of George Formby and memorising chunks of old movies as well as wonderful poetry. Unfortunately, the headmaster is obsessed with performance league tables and desperate for some of the boys to win places at Oxford and Cambridge. So he drafts in an educational gunslinger, Irwin, to teach the class how to shoot from the lip in tests and flimflam their way into a top university. The resulting conflict - aggravated by Hector's tendency to put his hands where he shouldn't when giving boys lifts home on his motorbike - makes for the finest and funniest New Year treat on the West End stage... Director Simon Cox's recreation of the National production includes a large screen showing bits of off-stage action... Ten out of ten for a classroom that's all class." The Sun
"You saw the play, you've listened to the audio CD, you've seen the film . . . So now see the play again. I speak, of course, of Alan Bennett's 2004 play The History Boys . Even so, I am happily amazed to find how many layers it reveals, how many gems it contains... My only regret is Bennett has not revised the play to absorb the best changes he made to it when writing the film... Nicholas Hytner's production allows his actors to rediscover the characters without fitting them into the original moulds. You come out talking of Posner, Irwin, Hector - and education, education, education." The Financial Times
"It's nearly three years since Alan Bennett's The History Boys started the journey that took it from triumph at the National to almost greater success on Broadway - and its revival in the West End, though far from bad, left me nostalgic for Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour and a cast that had me thinking and laughing, laughing and thinking, all at the same time. Although Bennett's portrait of a class of potential high-flyers is mostly set in the 1980s, it remains as topical as it was in 2004... But does the slight lack of fizz that was apparent on opening night make the play less essential viewing? Not at all." The Times
"Alan Bennett is back on his best form - it was obvious from the start that Bennett had created one of his most memorable characters in 'Hector' (it's a nickname), an eccentric, inspirational English teacher at a Northern school. And some of the early classroom scenes are blissfully funny, especially one where, in order to improve their language skills, the boys are acting out an episode in a French brothel and the headmaster suddenly shows up." The Sunday Telegraph
Alan Bennett about writing The History Boys: "Plays begin with characters - particularly in this one, the character of Hector. I suppose the contrasting methods of Hector and Irwin do say something about the educational system today but that wasn't what I set out to write about. I wanted to put these two characters together in order to see what happened. That Irwin turned out to be (or end up as) a spin doctor rather took me by surprise, but the more history he taught, and his particular slant on history, made me see that there was a link between that sort of teaching and the sort of presentation that goes on in politics and the media."
Alan Bennett's play was originally seen at The National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in May 2004, winning The Olivier Award for 'Best New Play', and playing an extended 12 month repertory season before returning in December 2005 for a further two month season in repertory. The production transferred to New York's Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway where it played a five month season, winning The Tony Award for 'Best New Play'. A film version of The History Boys, featuring the original stage cast, was released in October 2006.
The History Boys in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 21 December 2006, opened on 3 January 2007 and closed on 14 April 2007, returned 20 December 2007 and closed on 26 April 2008.