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The History Boys - applause all round
on 2 March 2005
The latest play from Alan Bennet proves both funny, thought-proking and currently hugely successful at the NT. The characters are all beautifully created and lovable, from the confused homosexual youth Posner to the stressed, icy Headmaster, obsessed with league tables and results. The witty one liners and amusing comments,especially from Mrs Lintott, contribute to an extremely funny backdrop to a deeply serious play, where the issues of the purpose of education, homosexuality and the inevitable competition of youth are addressed and debated. The "History Boys" themselves successfully represent the thousands of hopeful Oxbridge candidates each year, all of them experiencing the highs and the lows of studying and the joy of learning, making this play a timeless jem.
The teacher Hector, whom Richard Griffiths is currently portraying with great conviction at the NT, is intellectually brilliant and extremely impressive, and yet, he is just a fallible human being with temptations and desires that finally get the better of him. This point is so tragic and powerful it evokes great sympathy from the reader and adds to the effectiveness of the play.
A thoroughly enjoyable play to light up both the stage and the mind. It is one of the rare plays that you feel you can watch time and time again, learning something new each time.