South Downs / The Browning Version
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The double bill of plays South Downs / The Browning Version previewed 19 April 2012, opened 24 April 2012, closed 21 July 2012 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London
A double bill of Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version with David Hare's specially written new 'companion' piece The South Downs in London starring Anna Chancellor and Nicholas Farrell and directed by Jeremy Herrin (South Downs) and Angus Jackson (The Browning Version).
"What a terrific idea. To mark Terence Rattigan's centenary last year, Chichester Festival Theatre elected to stage his heart-breaking one-act play, The Browning Version, in company with a new work, South Downs by David Hare. The resulting double bill now arrives in the West End: a beautifully modulated and quietly devastating evening of school drama. Both plays are set in public schools, inspired by their authors' own experiences. But they complement each other neatly. Hare's, set in 1962, is shown from the boys' point of view, and is a fluid piece, working by accumulation of scenes. Rattigan's, set in the late 1940s, depicts the masters' experience and never moves from the one room. Yet both have in common a crisp sense of humour, a keen sympathy and a deep understanding of the cruelty and pain that the system can inflict... Between them, both plays quietly demonstrate the real lessons in how to live." The Financial Times
"In David Hare's South Downs, a precocious 14-year-old, friendless and alienated, looks up with admiration at a popular, commanding prefect. "I used to be like you," says the prefect. "But then I learned the rules." Playing by the rules, putting on a front: these are common themes in this public-school double bill. Terence Rattigan's famous one-act play, The Browning Version, has been twinned with a companion piece by David Hare, specially commissioned by the Rattigan estate to celebrate the playwright's centenary in 2011, and the resulting production, much praised at the Chichester festival last year, is an evening of clipped vowels, clever rejoinders and suppressed emotions." The Observer
"There are many themes that link this wonderful pairing, first seen in Chichester last year, of Terence Rattigan's classic The Browning Version, from 1948, and a companion piece by David Hare commissioned for the Rattigan centenary last year by the playwright's estate... South Downs comes first. It is Hare's most buoyant work in years. Although it is highly personal — scholarship boy Blakemore shares some of the playwright's background — it is also witty, vivid, erudite and always enjoyable as it evokes the hierarchies and priorities of boarding-school boys in 1962. We get a stream of hilarious yet touching lines as Hare traces the way that changing the world once felt both doable and a duty... If, at first, Rattigan seems creaky by comparison, the ideas eventually dig deep in Angus Jackson's fine production. On Scutt's naturalistic living-room set, Nicholas Farrell plays the classics master Crocker-Harris, mocked by the boys, cuckolded by his wife, disrespected by the governors... It's a terrific performance by Farrell, and is superbly supported by Chancellor as his embittered wife, among a fine cast of adult and teenage actors." The Times
The double bill of plays South Downs / The Browning Version in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previewed from 19 April 2012, opened on 24 April 2012 and closes on 21 July 2012.