The History Boys | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The History Boys 

Adapted by Alan Bennett from his celebrated play, this British drama about a boys' boarding school in the early 80s draws on the sentimental tradition of Goodbye, Mr. Chips but also offers a sharp critique of the means and measures of education. Richard Griffiths stars as a lovable old English teacher who endorses A.E. Housman's principle that "all knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use." His philosophy is challenged after eight young history scholars score high enough on their exams to be considered for Oxford or Cambridge and the headmaster hires a clever young instructor (Stephen Campbell Moore) to school them in the rhetorical smoke and mirrors that impresses college examiners. Shot in five weeks with the original West End cast, this is rather drab cinematically, but it bursts with ideas, and the fresh young actors playing the boys are exceedingly quick and lively. R, 109 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. a Century 12 and CineArts 6, Landmark's Century Centre.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
May 28
Performing Arts
Henchpeople Jarvis Square Theater
July 09

Popular Stories

  • Book It

    New and recent book releases from Chicago authors and publishers
  • A silence louder than words

    How allegations of sexual abuse exposed cracks in the foundation of Young Chicago Authors, Free Write Arts & Literacy, and the city’s spoken word community
  • Comedy is back, baby!

    A glimpse at how stand-ups coped during the pandemic and made their triumphant return to telling jokes again.
  • Weed Wolf, the tagger

    'No matter how lame or artsy-fartsy it is, I'll take anything over a poo-brown wall'