Bennett's 'History Boys' wins critical acclaim in New York

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The Independent Culture

Alan Bennett's quintessentially British play The History Boys has opened to enthusiastic acclaim across the Atlantic.

The play, which follows a group of sixth-form boys studying for their Oxbridge entrance exams, received the Laurence Olivier Award for best new play during its run in London.

The critical reaction to its opening night on Broadway appears to indicate that Bennett, described by Variety as a "peerless observer of English life," is now set to triumph in America.

Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote that Bennett's dialogue was as "shimmering and warming as a fine cognac", while Linda Winer of Newsday said it was "ebullient, crackling, miraculous theatre". And The Washington Post described it as "devilishly entertaining".

The only dissenter was The New York Post, which said that although the play had come to the Broadhurst Theatre "trailing clouds of glory" it was in fact, "overblown, over-hyped and overrated".

The National Theatre production, directed by Nicholas Hytner and with the original London cast performing, led Time Out's New York edition to produce a guide to British terminology to prepare American theatre-goers for the play.

Richard Griffiths has been tipped for a Tony award, New York's equivalent of an Olivier, for his role as the teacher Hector. A film version of the play will be released at the end of the run.