Players bring study of humanity to stage

Adam Hurst, The Browning Version
Adam Hurst, The Browning Version

The Thame Players bring The Browning Version, one of Terence Rattigan’s best-known plays, to town next week.

Since it was first performed in 1948 it has achieved huge success, including two film versions and at least four TV adaptations.

Thame Players are staging a new production, which opens on Tuesday, September 12, at the Players Theatre, until Saturday, September 16, with shows at 7.45pm.

The Browning Version is set on the last day of a classics master’s final term at an English boys’ school.

Andrew Crocker-Harris (or ‘The Crock’ as he’s nicknamed) is academically brilliant but rather stuffy and inflexible as a person.

He started his job with high hopes and great ambitions 18 years earlier, but he’s not popular and is generally disliked. Now poor health is forcing him to retire. His wife is altogether different as a character, vivacious and popular – and not just with the students. What does the future hold for this couple and will they face it together or apart? The play exposes a sad and poignant, yet ultimately inspiring and restorative, tale of love and longing.

Phil Byrom, director of this production for Thame Players, said: “When I first came across The Browning Version, I was captivated by Rattigan’s understanding of people with their complex relationships and motivations.

“The characters are beautifully wrought studies of humanity, painted in vivid hues that draw us into the drama, making their turmoil almost tangible. I believe Rattigan belongs in the first rank of playwrights who tell us so much about human nature, particularly the nature of love, rendering his plays timeless - irrespective of the era in which they’re set.”

Rattigan’s hit comedies and dramas include Flare Path, The Winslow Boy, The Deep Blue Sea and Separate Tables, plus many film scripts. By the early 1950s, Rattigan was Britain’s most successful playwright, both critically and financially.

Phil added: “Since his death in 1977, Rattigan’s reputation has continued to rise and today, with his penetrating understanding of the joy and the pain of love and the need to be needed, he is widely regarded as the English Chekhov.”