South Downs, the David Hare play commissioned by Chichester Festival Theatre to accompany a revival of Rattigan’s The Browning Version, was yesterday adapted for Radio 4’s Saturday Drama slot, with the original stage cast giving their all.
Nicholas Farrell and Anna Chancellor lend their names and reputations to the production, but it’s the young cast who make it shine: most particularly Alex Lawther as Blakemore. It’s astonishing that this is his first professional role, but I’m sure it won’t be his last.
Originally staged at Chichester Festival Theatre, this double bill saw one of Terrence Rattigan’s most enduring plays, the one-act The Browning Version, revived as part of the tributes to the playwright’s centenary year (cf. revivals of Cause Celebre, Flare Path, etc.
Rather than pairing it with Harlequinade, the other Rattigan one-act play it had originally been played with, though, CFT prefaced the play with a new, companion piece from contemporary playwright David Hare. South Downs, like The Browning Version, is set within the walls of an English public school. Change is similarly encroaching: in Hare’s story, it is of the forthcoming Wilson government and the socio-economic change from the white heat of technology, whereas the world outside Rattigan’s school is still embroiled in war.
The two pieces complement each other extremely well – far more than I would have expected, and I suspect far better than a revival of Harlequinade could do.
South Downs/The Browning Version, Harold Pinter Theatre5Scott Matthewman2012-04-29 17:36:24