One of Yorkshire’s most cherished playwrights, Alan Bennett, will be celebrated at York Theatre Royal this autumn as it produces his first ever play, Forty Years On from Friday 23rd September to Saturday 15th October.

Bennett wrote this comedy in 1968 and it became an instant hit on the West End with John Gielgud playing the Headmaster. In recent years the play is rarely performed and this run at York Theatre Royal as part of the theatres 'In the Round Ensemble Season' will give a unique opportunity to experience this modern classic on the newly configured main stage.

Set in Albion House, a public school, this is a play within a play which follows the staff and students of the dramatic society as they present ‘Speak for England, Arthur’ in the last days of term.

Bennett uses the public school as a devise to talk about England, or rather the England that is missing after the Great War in 1918. Everything the public school boys stand for is now in question, as the idyllic Edwardian version of British life can no longer be sustained. Through the school play the script delights in the songs, dances and schoolboy humour of a bygone era and takes its modern day audience up to the announcement of the Second World War.

Through what has been claimed on of Bennett’s funniest works, this play still raises relevant questions for a contemporary audience. Just what is it to be British now? And how has our lifestyle changed? Do we still pine for that idyllic bygone era?

Robert Pickavance as Hook in YTR's Peter Pan
Photo by Karl Andre Photography
Ensemble cast members, Martin Barrass (The Crucible, My Family and Other Animals, Peter Pan), Jonathan Race (The Crucible, My Family and Other Animals, Two Planks and a Passion, The Railway Children), Robert Pickavance (Peter Pan), Andrina Carroll (The Crucible, The Railway Children) and Sarah Quintrell (The Railway Children) are joined by Belt Up Theatre and 10 young men from the local community who take on the roles of the raucous sixth form lads.

To book tickets for this hilarious production of a modern classic call the Box Office on 01904 623568 or go online at

Listings Information:

Produced by York Theatre Royal
Written by Alan Bennett
Directed by Damian Cruden

Dates: Fri 23 Sep – Sat 15 Oct
Times: 7.30pm with 2.30pm (Sat) matinees
Location: Main House in the round
Tickets: £10 - £18, £7 students, u25s, schools
Family ticket: Tue – Thu £44, Fri & Sat £48

Signed performance: Wed 12 Oct, 7.30pm
Captioned: Sat 15 Oct, 2.30pm
Audio Described: Sat 15 Oct, 2.30pm & 7.30pm

After show discussion: Tue 11 Oct

Jonathan Race – Tempest
Martin Barrass – Franklin
Andrina Carroll – Matron
Robert Pickavance – Headmaster
Sarah Quintrell – Miss Nebitt
Belt Up Theatre and 10 young men from the local community – Sixth Form boys