Based on Hare’s time at Lancing College, South Downs looks at the world of boarding schools through the eyes of a razor-sharp young boy, who becomes isolated from his classmates due to his intelligence and background. Whilst the school itself does nothing to help him, leaving him evermore alone, he finds unexpected solace through a chance meeting with another pupil’s mother. With generosity of spirit and some strict advice, the boy begins to find his way through his difficulties and into a world laced with kindness.
Similarly, Rattigan’s The Browning Version is based loosely upon his experience at Harrow School. Told through the eyes of a retiring Classics master, Mr Crocker-Harris is a tired, dried-up tyrant of a teacher. Trapped in a broken marriage with barely any money to his name, a simple act of kindness from one of his pupils pulls into question his morals and dignity. Revealing the heart-breaking sadness that Mr Crocker-Harris endures, The Browning Version is a moving take on power play.
Reprising their roles, Anna Chancellor, Nicholas Farrell and Alex Lawther lead the casts following critical praise at Chichester. Chancellor is well-known for her performances on stage and screen, playing Belinda Duffield in South Downs and Millie Crocker-Harris in The Browning Version. Nicholas Farrell, who most recently appeared in The Iron Lady, takes on Reverend Eric Dewley in South Downs and Andrew Crocker-Harris in The Browning Version. Further cast members include Jonathan Bailey, Bradley Hall, Rob Heaps, Liam Morton, Mark Umbers, Andrew Woodall and Amanda Fairbank-Hynes.
Commissioned to write a complementing piece for Rattigan’s rarely performed The Browning Version, Hare’s South Downs follows a string of successful plays such as Skylight, Stuff Happens and The Judas Kiss. Angus Jackson directs The Browning Version, whilst South Downs is directed by Jeremy Herrin. Both feature original music by Paul Englishby, lighting design by Bruno Poet and sound design by Ian Dickinson for Autograph. A thought-provoking double bill, don’t miss these plays at the Harold Pinter Theatre until July 22nd 2012.