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» One Touch Football - Archive » Books » Alan Bennett - "The History Boys"

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Author Topic: Alan Bennett - "The History Boys"
Andy C
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The reason I wasn't around yesterday to contribute peripheral inconsequentialities on Andrea Dworkin and the Dutch was that I was fortunate enough to have a ticket thrust upon me for this play. It's nearing its run at the National Theatre, so there might not be an awful lot of point to my mentioning it, but there are strong rumours of a transfer to the West End and an American run. If this comes to pass, get straight down to the ticket office. It's staggeringly brilliant.

Its structure and the techniques that it uses are innovatory - it uses back-projected video to advance and comment on the unfolding story; there are flash-forwards; characters step outside of the action to deliver homilies and internal monologues and even songs that obliquely advance the plot and the characters; there's one scene where a character is talking about a conversation that happened a little while in the past and conducting that very conversation at the same time; there's allegory upon allegory. It explores some very deep themes: the purpose of education - whether it's to pass exams and gain a tangible advantage in life, or something much more abstract; the nature of history - whether it's better to see it as a sequence of events that lead directly from one to another or a series of accidents; the purpose of the historian; the usefulness of art; postmodernism; the (to use the word of the day) perniciousness of sensationalist contrarianism both in the presentation of history and in politics; the teacher-pupil relationship and awakening adolescent sexuality. And it's all done with Bennett's sublime wit and erudition. There are some of the funniest jokes I've ever heard in there, and some profound lines too, all executed with a true master's precision.

It's three hours long, and when it had finished the thing I wanted to do more than anything in the world was sit through the whole thing again.

Oh, and the set design was utterly fantastic.

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My name is Mumpo
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do you get to see any tits?
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Andy C
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No. But if you did, they'd belong to Richard Griffiths so I don't count it as a lamentable omission.
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My name is Mumpo
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right.

sorry for the crass intrusion, i was seized by reckless impetuosity. let intelligent confabulation commence henceforth.

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Pants
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Andy, unfortunately I don't have time to add much, except to say I whole-heartedly agree with your evaluation. I saw this last year - it's easily one of the best things I've seen in the last five years. Quite breathtakingly brilliant. Like yourself, the moment it ended I wanted it to start all over again.

As an aside, I went to 'An Audience With Alan Bennett' at the NT last year, too (it was part of Morrissey's Meltdown Festival). AB was wonderful: as charming, witty and intelligent as you'd hope and expect. That was a great evening too.

EDIT: It'd help if I could spell the bloke's name correctly.

[ 13.04.2005, 22:17: Message edited by: Pants ]

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The 7th Baron Bartok
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I am disconsolate at the unavailability of tickets for this production. I hope you're right that it moves to the West End. I'd rather have seen it at the National, though, I prefer the atmopshere.
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Pants
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Baron, there's a show on this arvo at 2.15. Like the rest of the run, it's sold out, but if you can make it, it's probably worth belling up the NT this morning on the off-chance. The box office number is 0207 452 3000.
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Andy C
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There's talk of a film, but negotiations seemed to be stalled at the moment because Alan Bennett and Nicholas Hytner are insisting that the entire stage cast play their parts, contrary to the wishes of the putative studio.

Bennett and Hytner eventually got their way in this regard over The Madness of King George: the studio wanted an American star - according to Hytner, Al Pacino was among their first choices.

[ 14.04.2005, 12:50: Message edited by: Andy C ]

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Mat Pereira
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Hah, no! Shades of 'Strike' that.
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Pants
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quote:
Bennett and Hytner eventually got their way in this regard over The Madness of Knig George: the studio wanted an American star - according to Hytner, Al Pacino was among their first choices.
Have you heard the infamous (and possibly apocryphal) story that the studio insisted on changing the name of the film to The Madness of King George (the play was called The Madness of King George III) for fear that the American market would say, "Hmmm, don't fancy that - I haven't seen one and two".
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Andy C
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Knig? Dear me, I'm off-form today.
Posts: 8328 | From: Hampstead Norreys no more | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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