Saturday 6 October 2007

History Boys

I finally got around to seeing Alan Bennett's The History Boys this week, as the National Theatre's fine production of the story of young men in their term before university reached Bath. It is seen by many as a critique of the supposedly valueless drive for targets and results in the modern education system, and we are supposed to be rooting for the anarchic Hector (his molestations aside) through all this. And yet. What struck me most was the underlying assumption that the students shouldn't be setting their sights on Oxford and Cambridge (though it presumably did Bennett no harm). As Libby Purves persuasively argued in the Times earlier this week, that is why our two leading universities don't get the proportion of state pupils whose results would justify admission. The education politics aside, this is a truly wonderful production of a very fine play, with a splendid set of characters and a cast on top-notch form. I gather it is back on the West End later this year. Don't miss it.

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