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Ballarat National Theatre

THE BROWNING VERSION
by Terrance Rattigan

COUNTDOWN
by Alan Ayckbourn

GEORGE'S ROOM
By Alan Owen

 

Synopsis

There have been two feature films, four television videos and innumerable stage productions of The Browning Version (featuring such star actors as Eric Portman, Michael Redgrave, John Gielgud, Peter Cushing, Paul Eddington, Albert Finney & Peter Bowles).

In 2006 we had a great success with The Winslow Boy by the same author.

Crocker-Harris classics master at a leading public school (although the name of the school is not given in the play, it is clearly Harrow School which the author attended) is on the point of retiring. On this, his last day at the school, we observe his relationship with his wife, a colleague, the headmaster, the young master who is to replace him and Taplow, a pupil who needs Crocker-Harris to pass him so he can go up to the next year.

The Browning Version
The ‘Browning Version’ of the title is the reference, within the story, of Robert Browning's translation of the Greek tragedy Agamemnon. In the tragedy, Agamemnon is murdered by his wife, aided by her lover.

Countdown
This short comic piece, taken from ‘Mixed Doubles’ (which BNT presented in 1987) charts a typical, after supper, evening in the life of a long married suburban couple.

George's Room
George has been dead for some time. His wife feels that it is time she let his room. She is awaiting the arrival of a possible lodger. BNT has previously presented ‘Norma’ (also from ‘Mixed Double’) by the same author

 

Gallery

 
Browning8
Countdown 1

Review

REVIEW - BROWNING VERSION Etc.

Reviewe by Gail Sjogren

Three for One Night at the Theatre

Three well-known playwrights contribute to this varied program. Before interval we enjoy two short plays, Countdown by Alan Ayckbourn and George’s Room by Alun Owen. While neither play is perhaps as well-written as their author’s better known works, each offers an insight into relationships with considerable humour and understanding.

In Countdown, Haydn Vincent and Jill Dunne portray the underlying frustrations and boredom of a long marriage, while in George’s Room, Meg Ford and Hedley Thomson show what can eventuate when a woman who has long been subservient to a bullying husband meets a gentle and considerate man. The portrayals are all strong as we have come to expect from such experienced actors.

The second half of the program is the well-known Terrence Rattigan play, The Browning Version. Here incisive writing and excellent acting come together. There is humour, certainly, but mostly real emotion and humanity in all its varied guises. Young actor Patrick Shaw is absolutely at home in the role of student John Taplow. Martin McGettigan is the sort of teacher we would all like for our children, in contrast to Paul Rose’s blustering and insensitive Headmaster. Mary-Rose McLaren is totally believable as a disappointed and bitchy wife, while John Daykin and Jacinta Antonelli offer youth and optimism.

But it is Peter Nethercote’s portrayal of the central character which lingers longest in the memory. The dignity with which he faces his failures and the moments when his façade falls and we see the real pain he suffers are extremely moving. We can believe in this man, recognise his faults and weaknesses but mostly feel his pain. This is an outstanding portrayal.

Director Julian Oldfield has used a simple set which, with minor changes, is appropriate for all plays. With such strong performances from all the actors. I am sure audiences will enjoy this program.