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Bennett’s The History Boys Returns Home

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Alan Bennett’s internationally acclaimed play The History Boys is to be staged for the first time since its National Theatre debut in 2004, in a co-production by West Yorkshire Playhouse and Theatre Royal Bath Productions in 2010. The History Boys will open at Theatre Royal Bath on January 25, and at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 3 February, before commencing a national tour.

This new outing for the play, set in a Yorkshire Grammar school, sees it return to its origins, as playwright Bennett was born and raised in Armley, West Yorkshire, and attended Leeds Modern School (now Lawnswood School).

The play was extremely popular on its first outing, transferring to the West End and touring for several years, along the way winning three Olivier Awards, six Tony Awards, the Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Awards, all including Best Play.

The new production is to be directed by Christopher Luscombe, who has previously worked on three of Bennett’s plays, Enjoy, The Lady in the Van and Single Spies.

The History Boys follows the attempts of sixth-form boys at Cutler’s Grammar School in their attempts to gain university places at Oxford and Cambridge, despite the odds against them. Their efforts are led by Irwin, a young new member of staff brought in the ambitious head teacher who coaches the students on how to write an Oxbridge style essay and to play the interview system for all its worth. This is all to the consternation of older schoolmaster Hector, a motorcycle-riding eccentric who prefers to school the boys in “life” rather than examinations.

Kyle Redmond-Jones, whose credits include the films, Star Crossed and The Edge of Love and the BBC drama Merlin, is to play the cocky schoolboy Dakin. Hector is to be played by Gerard Murphy, who returns to West Yorkshire Playhouse following his role in A Small Family Business, and whose recent credits include the lead role in King Lear (Second Age, Dublin). Other cast members include George Banks, Penelope Beaumont, James Byng, Rob Delaney, Christopher Keegan, Beruce Khan, Ben Lambert, Peter McGovern, Tom Reed and Thomas Wheatley.

Designer Janet Bird joins director Christopher Luscombe once again after their collaboration on Bennett’s Enjoy which played in the West End this year to critical acclaim.

- Vicky Ellis


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