The Browning Version and Harlequinade

by Terence Rattigan

directed by Albie Minns

Performed at the

Plaza Theatre, Romsey


5th to 9th November 1991

The Browning Version and Harlequinade (Playbill as the two one-actors were called) were revived in 1980 by the National Theatre. Many of Rattigan’s most convincing plays have a boy or young man, at a testing moment of life, at the middle of them. His need in the period after Oxford to justify his choice of career to his father by becoming a success seems to have left him with what we might be inclined to call an obsession with father-son relationships. In The Browning Version there is no father and son as such; instead, as a substitute father, we have the figure of the elderly schoolmaster on the point of retirement, Andrew Crocker-Harris. Taplow, the boy, needs the approval of “the Crock” (in order to get his remove), but so does “the Crock” need the admiraton of Taplow if his entire life is not to be pronounced a failure.

Rattigan was educated in the 1920’s at Harrow School where he was a classicist. He played cricket well and played in the Eton and Harrow match at Lords. This detail is all brought forward in time to cover the period in which the play was written. His insights of the play are such that it remains timeless and will, I hazard, outlast even the system of privileged private education and the compulsory study of classics on which it is founded.

Harlequinade, the original stable mate of The Browning Version, recalls his wartime provincial touring theatre. The play is rooted in those tatty tours that brightened many a blacked-out or austerity-grey evening, and it also contains a flashback to the author’s wider graduate acting experience; but the real subject is the Coward-like one that theatrical people are a happy breed set apart from ordinary mortals in their own sealed off world, subject to a different set of motivations from the rest of us. This was the only time he ever wrote a play about actors, and Dame Maud contains more than a suggestion of Dame Sybil Thorndike. Rattigan’s gift of invention and surprise was never more fluent.

The Browning Version
Cast (in order of appearance)
John Taplow Matthew Bence
Frank Hunter Ian Morley
Millie Crocker-Harris Mollie Manns
Andrew Crocker-Harris Ken Spencer
Dr Frobisher David Pike
Peter Gilbert Simon Wills
Mrs Gilbert Maria Hutchings

Cast (in order of appearance)
Arthur Gosport David Bartlett
Edna Sely Philippa Tayler
Dame Maud Gosport Hazel Burrows
Jake Wakefield Ken Hann
George Chudleigh Douglas Coates
1st Halberdier Ian Morley
2nd Halberdier Neville Green
Miss Fishlock Christine Baker
Fred Ingram John Carrington
Poppy Dawn Finbow
Muriel Palmer Kate Atkinson
Tom Palmer Kevin Spencer
Mr Burton Graham Buchanan
Joyce Langland Jane Royle
Policeman Bruce Atkinson
Monks Bruce Atkinson, Kevin Mitchell


For the Maskers
Directed by Albie Minns
Assistant to the Directorr Nichola Home
Stage Manager Angie Barks
Assistant Stage Managers Julia Campone, Tony Lawther
Set Design Ron Tillyer
Set Construction Chris Finbow, Ron Tillyer, Darryl Palmer, Brian Langford, Kevin Hughes
Set Painting Edwin Beecroft
Set Dressing Jan Ward, Jean Durman
Lighting Design Clive Weeks
Assisted by Ali Mountford
Properties Ella Lockett, Jean Durman
Wardrobe Helen Officer, Julie Zillwood, Angie Stansbridge, Lawrie Gee
Poster Design Ken Spencer
Publicity Michael Patterson
Front of House Coordinator Belinda Drew


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Established 1968

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