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History Boys crowned nation’s favourite play

Published 11 December 2013

Alan Bennett’s Olivier Award-winning comedy about a group of pupils preparing to take Oxbridge entrance examinations is the UK’s most popular play according to a survey carried out by English Touring Theatre (ETT).

The piece, first staged at the National Theatre in 2004, beat Michael Frayn’s farce Noises Off and William Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet into second and third place.

Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest, Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem, JB Priestley’s An Inspector Calls and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Macbeth and King Lear completed the top ten.

Speaking about the results, Rachel Tackley, ETT’s Director, said: “Over 1,400 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.”

While The History Boys topped the voting in the East of England, the Midlands, the North East and North West, in London and the South East the most recently written play in the top 10, Butterworth’s Jerusalem, proved most popular.

ETT commissioned the poll to mark its 21st birthday. The company plans to stage nine of the most popular shows in 2014 alongside its regular touring schedule of 12 productions, to bring the number of productions for the year to a suitable 21.

Details of which shows will be staged and where are yet to be revealed.

"Over 1,400 plays featured in the results which is astonishing and speaks volumes about the health of British theatre"

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