(Alfred Hickling’s review appeared in the Guardian, 2/9.)
The History Boys
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
Alan Bennett cheated his way into Oxbridge – at least, that's what he claims, having devised a strategy to give the examiners what they wanted. The guilt never left him, and 50 years later he wrote The History Boys as "both a confession and an expiation for what I feel was, in effect, a confidence trick".
Taken at his own estimation, The History Boys could be interpreted as no more than a bright scholarship boy's note from his mum: "Please excuse our Alan his six Tony awards, it's just that he's always been good at exams." Yet as the original National Theatre production proved, and this major revival by West Yorkshire Playhouse and Theatre Royal Bath confirms, it is one of the most provocatively funny debates ever conceived about what education is for and who is entitled to it.
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