Previewed 8 May 2004, Opened 18 May 2004, Closed 26 April 2005 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre
Previewed 21 to 28 September 2005, 2 December 2005, Opened 5 December 2005, Closed 1 February 2006 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre
Previewed 21 December 2006, Opened 3 January 2007, Closed 14 April 2007 at the Wyndham's Theatre
Previewed 20 December 2007, Opened 7 January 2008, Closed 26 April 2008 at the Wyndham's Theatre
The National Theatre's production of Alan Bennett's award-winning play The History Boys in 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.
Winner of the Olivier Award for 'Best New Play'.
Please Note: This production contains strong language and therefore parental guidance is advised for children under the age of 14.
The cast from Saturday 8 May 2004 to Tuesday 26 April 2005 at London's Lyttelton Theatre featured Sacha Dhawan as 'Akthar', Samuel Anderson as 'Crowther', Dominic Cooper as 'Dakin', Andrew Knott as 'Lockwood', Samuel Barnett as 'Posner', Russell Tovey as 'Rudge', Jamie Parker as 'Scripps', James Corden as 'Timms', Clive Merrison as 'Headmaster', Frances de la Tour as 'Mrs Lintott', Richard Griffiths as 'Hector', and Stephen Campbell Moore as 'Irwin', with Tom Attwood, Rudi Dharmalingam, Colin Haigh, Joseph Raishbrook, and Joan Walker.
The cast from Wednesday 21 to Wednesday 28 September 2005, and from Friday 2 December 2005 to Thursday 19 January 2006 (no performances from 20 to 22 January) at London's Lyttelton Theatre featured Marc Elliott as 'Akthar', Kenny Thompson as 'Crowther', Jamie King as 'Dakin', Matt Smith as 'Lockwood', Steven Webb as 'Posner', Philip Correia as 'Rudge', Thomas Morrison as 'Scripps', James Cartwright as 'Timms', Bruce Alexander as 'Headmaster', Diana Fletcher as 'Mrs Lintott', Desmond Barrit as 'Hector', and Tobias Menzies as 'Irwin'.
The cast from Monday 23 January 2006 to Wednesday 1 February 2006 at London's Lyttelton Theatre featured Sacha Dhawan as 'Akthar', Samuel Anderson as 'Crowther', Dominic Cooper as 'Dakin', Andrew Knott as 'Lockwood', Samuel Barnett as 'Posner', Russell Tovey as 'Rudge', Jamie Parker as 'Scripps', James Corden as 'Timms', Malcolm Sinclair as 'Headmaster' (up to Saturday 28 January 2006), Clive Merrison as 'Headmaster' (from Monday 30 January 2006), Maggie Steed as 'Mrs Lintott' (up to Saturday 28 January 2006), Frances de la Tour as 'Mrs Lintott' (from Monday 30 January 2006), Richard Griffiths as 'Hector', and Stephen Campbell Moore as 'Irwin'.
The cast from Thursday 21 December 2006 to Saturday 14 April 2007 at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre featured Marc Elliott as 'Akthar', Akemnji Ndifornyen as 'Crowther', Ben Barnes as 'Dakin', David Poynor as 'Lockwood', Steven Webb as 'Posner', Philip Correia as 'Rudge', Thomas Morrison as 'Scripps', Owain Arthur as 'Timms', William Chubb as 'Headmaster', Isla Blair as 'Mrs Lintott', Stephen Moore as 'Hector', and Orlando Wells as 'Irwin'.
The cast from Thursday 20 December 2007 to Saturday 26 April 2008 at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre featured Alton Letto as 'Akthar', Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as 'Crowther', Andrew Hawley as 'Dakin', Sam Phillips as 'Lockwood', Daniel Fine as 'Posner', Ryan Hawley as 'Rudge', Thomas Howes as 'Scripps', Danny Kirrane as 'Timms', David Mallinson as 'Headmaster', Elizabeth Bell as 'Mrs Lintott', Desmond Barrit as 'Hector', and Tim Delap as 'Irwin'.
Directed by Nicholas Hytner, with designs by Bob Crowley, video by Ben Taylor, lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Richard Sisson, and sound by Colin Pink. 2005 and 2006 seasons recreated from the original by Simon Cox. 2007/2008 season recreated from the original by Paul Miller.
This production transferred to New York's Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway for five month season - previewed from 14 April 2006, opened on 23 April 2006, and closed on 1 October 2006 - which featured the original stage cast, and won the Tony Award for 'Best New Play'. A film version of The History Boys, again featuring the original stage cast, was released in October 2006.
"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 20 December 2007, opened on 7 January 2008, and closed on 26 April 2008.