Rattigan classic The Browning Version staged in Diss on 70th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 09:10 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:10 19 November 2018

Terence Rattigan classic The Browning Version is being staged at Diss Corn Hall. Picture: Open Space Theatre/Bridget Morley

Terence Rattigan classic The Browning Version is being staged at Diss Corn Hall. Picture: Open Space Theatre/Bridget Morley


There was a time when Terence Rattigan could do no wrong. He turned out comedies and dramas for the stage and screenplays for the movies one after another, all beautifully crafted and, above all, beautifully written.

With plays like The Winslow Boy, The Deep Blue Sea and Separate Tables and films like The Prince and the Showgirl for Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier and the hugely popular Goodbye Mr Chips, he was right at the top of the mid-20th century dramatists.

He was at the time the highest-paid screenwriter in the world, but then the 1956 overnight success of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger started the era of kitchen sink dramas by the Angry Young Men of theatre and Rattigan’s work went out of fashion.

But you can’t keep a good writer down and he’s been back in favour for some time with all the top directors anxious to get to grips with his plays.

The Browning Version is an elegant example of his best work full of moments of great compassion and heartache. First performed on 8 September 1948, this is the 70th year anniversary of the play’s first performance.

No surprise then that it is being staged by Open Space Theatre Company for its autumn tour and arrives at Diss Corn Hall on November 23.

Trapped in an unhappy marriage, the thwarted desires of Millie Crocker-Harris are released in the form of spite and betrayal as her ailing, humiliated schoolteacher husband, Andrew - also unloved by his pupils - faces academic and marital oblivion. But could an unexpected gift from one student help restore some semblance of humanity?

Millie Crocker-Harris is being played by Emma Martin, with Tim Hall as Andrew Crocker-Harris, Ben Willmott as Frank Hunter, Leon Bedwell as John Taplow and Peter Sowerbutts is Dr Frobisher.

The play is seen by some as Terence Rattigan’s best work. Director David Green said: “Rattigan’s work shows such an understanding of the human heart. Packed with humour and compassion, it is essentially about how affection, love and desire linger on within lives blighted by loneliness and disappointment.”

• The Browning Version is at Diss Corn Hall on November 23, 7.30pm, £11 (£9 cons), 01379 652241, disscornhall.co.uk

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