Play by Terrance Rattigan. Andrew Crocker-Harris is on the verge of retirement, and potentially divorce from wife, Millie. However, he has a shot at redeeming his dignity when a young pupil gives him an unexpected parting gift. Normally presented as the first part of a 'double-bill' with Rattigan's Harlequinade.
The Browning Version (with Harlequinade) - Original London West End Production 1948
Opened 8 September 1948, Closed 9 April 1949 at the Phoenix Theatre
The double-bill was called 'Playbill'. The cast featured Eric Portman as 'Andrew Crocker-Harris' and Mary Ellis as 'Millie Crocker-Harris' with Peter Scott as 'John Taplow', Hector Ross as 'Frank Hunter', Campbell Cotts as 'Dr Frobisher', Anthony Oliver as 'Peter Gilbert' and Henryetta Edwards as 'Mrs Gilbert'. Directed by Peter Glenville with designs by Paul Sheriff. Barry Jones took over the role of Andrew Crocker-Harris from Eric Portman for the last three weeks of the run.
The Browning Version (with Harlequinade) - National Theatre London Revival 1980
Previewed 8 May 1980, Opened 13 May 1980, Closed 21 March 1981 (in repertory) at the NT Lyttelton Theatre
The cast featured Alec McCowen as 'Andrew Crocker-Harris' and Geraldine McEwan as 'Millie Crocker-Harris' with Graeme Henderson as 'John Taplow', Nicky Henson as 'Frank Hunter', Antony Brown as 'Dr Frobisher', Peter Bourke as 'Peter Gilbert', Mary Chilton as 'Mrs Gilbert'. Directed by Michael Rudman with designs by Carl Toms, lighting by Brian Ridley and sound by Gabby Haynes.
The Browning Version (with Harlequinade) - 1st London West End Revival 1988
Previewed 11 March 1988, Opened 17 March 1988, Closed 30 April 1988 at the Royalty Theatre (now Peacock Theatre)
Note: The order of the two productions was reversed in this staging. The cast featured Paul Eddington as 'Andrew Crocker-Harris' and Dorothy Tutin as 'Millie Crocker-Harris' with Daniel Beales as 'John Taplow', John Duttine as 'Frank Hunter', Jack Watling as 'Dr Frobisher', Simon Shepherd as 'Mr Gilbert', Julie Dawn Cole as 'Mrs Gilbert'. Directed by Tim Luscombe with designs by Carl Toms and lightng by Leonard Tucker.
The Browning Version (with South Downs) - 2nd London West End Revival 2012
Previewed 19 April 2012, Opened 24 April 2012, Closed 21 July 2012 at the Harold Pinter Theatre
A transfer from the Chichester Festival Theatre and presented as a double bill with the London Premiere of The South Downs, a new 'companion' piece specially written by David Hare, commissioned by Terence Rattigan’s estate to mark his Centenary. The South Downs was presented first.
The cast featured Nicholas Farrell as 'Andrew Crocker-Harris' and Anna Chancellor as 'Millie Crocker-Harris' with Liam Morton as 'John Taplow', Mark Umbers as 'Frank Hunter', Andrew Woodall as 'Dr Frobisher', Rob Heaps as 'Peter Gilbert', Amanda Fairbank-Hynes as 'Mrs Gilbert'. Directed by Angus Jackson with designs by Tom Scutt, lighting by Bruno Poet and sound by Ian Dickinson.
The cast for South Downs featured Nicholas Farrell as 'Rev Eric Dewley' and Anna Chancellor as 'Belinda Duffield' with Alex Lawther as 'John Blakemore', Jonathan Bailey as 'Jeremy Duffield', Andrew Woodall as 'Basil Spear', Bradley Hall as 'Colin Jenkins', Tom Spink as 'Tommy Gunter', Liam Morton as 'Roger Sprule', Stella Gonet as 'the voice of Sheila Blakemore'. Directed by Jeremy Herrin with designs by Tom Scutt, lighting by Bruno Poet and sound by Ian Dickinson.
"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
"Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version, set in an English public school and possibly based on Harrow, his own alma mater, is a one-act masterpiece. At its centre is a once-brilliant classical scholar, Andrew Crocker-Harris, who became an exacting, unpopular schoolmaster known as the Himmler of the Lower Fifth. He is unhappily married to Millie, a serial seductress of younger teachers. Crocker-Harris bears these humiliations, as well as the illness which has forced him to retire pensionless from the school, in stoical silence until a pupil gives him a copy of Robert Browning's version of Agamemnon and the mask slips for the first time. The unexpected act of kindness moves the 'Crock' to tears. A production as beautifully detailed and judged as Angus Jackson's has a similar effect on the audience. Rattigan pulls off the impossible and wins our sympathy for an essentially unlikable character. Not just the desiccated, reptilian Crock but also his hateful, snobbish, cruel but also desperately disappointed wife... In South Downs, which David Hare has bravely written as a companion piece to the Rattigan, the thrust again is on the art of learning to pretend and how to put on a brave or false face. Inadequate and unpleasant schoolmasters also feature in Hare's play, but his focus is on a clever and questioning 14-year-old. The play is set in the Sixties in a Sussex public school doubtless modelled on Lancing, which Hare himself attended... It's a narrower, shallower play than Rattigan's but it's as well written and witty as Hare at his best and much more tender and sensitive than you might expect... Jeremy Herrin's atmospheric production is bathed in Anglican hymns and Alex Lawther as Blakemore makes a stunning debut. A class act." The Mail on Sunday
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 closed on 21 July 2012.