Alan Bennett’s fabulous new play The History Boys opened on Broadway last week at the Broadhurst to uniformly wonderful reviews after sold-out runs in London and Sydney. Set in Thatcher-era England, History Boys takes place in a state school where sixth form boys are preparing to take exams that will admit them to their fantasy of Oxbridge, or to lesser schools. Hector, their larger-than-life "general studies" professor played by (Harry Potter‘s comically evil uncle in the films) Richard Griffiths teaches them the joy of learning with and by heart, for the love of knowledge itself. Because his unorthodox methods drive the headmaster around the bend, a new teacher (Stephen Campbell Moore) is brought in to help them prepare for Orals. The chaos, crushes, and manic energy of adolescence contrast with the faculty rivalries and intrigue that threaten to bring a vunerable teacher down. More after the jump…
Is history truth, lies, context or just "one fooking thing after
another?" With more than a little echo of current U.S. educational
policy, Boys asks whether teachers prepare children for tests or impart a love of learning.
Hilarious, erudite, and moving, Boys contains more neo-aphorisms
per minute that any other play in recent memories. The incredibly handsome and talented young cast acts out poetry (Auden), film (Brief Encounter, Now, Voyager), philosophy (Wittgenstein) and song (Cole Porter) in class. The production
features a marvelous isometric set that changes scenes while surmounted
by witty black and white film projections of the cast, accompanied by
period ska and New Wave music. You’ll love trying to catch all the allusions, of which there are hundreds. Soon to be a film from Fox Searchlight Pictures, directed by Nicholas Hytner, who also directed the play. Through September 3rd.