The History Boys voted nation's favourite play

The Alan Bennett play beat Michael Frayn's 'Noises Off' to top the list

Daisy Wyatt
Wednesday 11 December 2013 13:13
The cast of the original History Boys production at the National Theatre
The cast of the original History Boys production at the National Theatre

The History Boys has been voted the nation’s favourite play, according to a new poll.

The Alan Bennett production beat four Shakespeare plays and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest to top the list.

First performed at the National Theatre in 2004, the play helped launch the acting careers of James Corden and Dominic Cooper.

Set in a Yorkshire boys Grammar School, The History Boys follows a group of sixth formers preparing for their Oxbridge interviews.

The play debuted on Broadway in 2006 and won a number of accolades, including a Laurence Olivier and Tony Award.

More than 7,000 theatregoers voted in the online poll conducted by the English Touring Theatre, which was open to people in the UK and abroad. Musicals, adaptations and translations were not included.

Michael Frayn’s ‘play within a play’ Noises Off was voted second, with William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in third.

A regional analysis of the poll found voters in the North East, North West, East and Midlands favoured Bennett’s play, while those in the South East and London opted for Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem.

Scottish voters preferred An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley, while Welsh theatregoers opted for Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.

Voters in Northern Ireland and the South West preferred classic tragedy Hamlet.

Rachel Tackley, director of the English Touring Theatre, said the company had plans to perform nine of the most popular plays in its 2014 season.

She said: “I want to thank the thousands of people who voted in this fantastic birthday present for English Touring Theatre. Over 1400 plays featured in the results which is astonishing and speaks volumes about the health of British theatre and the variety on offer to audiences.

“It’s wonderful that two such glorious playwrights as Alan Bennett and Michael Frayn sit alongside Shakespeare at the top of the list.”

The nation’s top ten plays, according to the poll:

1. The History Boys by Alan Bennett

2. Noises Off by Michael Frayn

3. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

4. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

6. Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth

7. An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley

8. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

9. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

10. King Lear by William Shakespeare

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