The Browning Version (play)
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|The Browning Version....|
|Written by||Terence Rattigan|
|Characters||Taplow, Andrew Crocker-Harris, Frank, Mrs Crocker- Harris|
|Date premiered||8 September 1948|
|Place premiered||Phoenix Theatre, London|
|Setting||A British public school|
Andrew Crocker-Harris is a classics teacher at an English boys school. After eighteen years of teaching there, today is his last day before moving on to a position at another school. The students speculate on why he is leaving, but don't much care since despite being academically brilliant, he is universally despised as being strict, stern and humourless. They have nicknamed him "The Crock". Even the school administrators treat him poorly regardless of his long tenure. Millie Crocker-Harris, his wife, is younger and vivacious and quite different from her husband. She no longer loves him but rather loves Frank Hunter, another teacher, yet despite having an affair with him she knows he is not in love with her. On this last day, one student named Taplow, who doesn't hate Mr. Crocker-Harris but rather feels sorry for him, provides him with a small going-away gift. The gift brings about a series of actions which make Mr. Crocker-Harris reflect on his past, contemplate his future, and evaluate how he is going to finish his tenure at the school.
In 1949 the play was performed on Broadway, opening on 12 October at the Coronet Theater on 49th street with Maurice Evans as Crocker-Harris and Edna Best as his faithless wife. However, the play and its companion-piece Harlequinade failed to find favour with the New York critics (possibly as a retaliation against the London critics' lukewarm reception of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman in the same year) and closed after just 62 performances. Peter Scott-Smith as John Taplow was the sole member of the West End cast to reprise his role on Broadway. The Theatre Royal Bath put the show on in 2000 and re-staged it in 2009 starring Peter Bowles. It was performed at the Oxford Playhouse in August 2009, again starring Peter Bowles as Crocker-Harris, preceded by Anton Chekhov's one-act play Swansong, in which Bowles played the drunken old actor Svetlovidov. A production at the Chichester Festival Theatre (alongside South Downs, a new play written in response to it by David Hare) marks Rattigan's centenary.
It was subsequently made into two film versions, and at least four made-for-television versions. The original 1951 film version, starring Michael Redgrave as Crocker-Harris, won two awards at the Cannes Film Festival, one for Rattigan's screenplay, the other for Redgrave's performance. It was remade in 1994, starring Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Greta Scacchi, Matthew Modine, Julian Sands and young Ben Silverstone. A British television version was made in 1955, starring Peter Cushing as Crocker-Harris. John Frankenheimer directed John Gielgud in a 1959 television version for CBS. In 1960, Maurice Evans repeated his Broadway role for CBC television under the sponsorship of Ford of Canada in their Startime series. Another made-for-TV version in 1985 starred Ian Holm as the main character for the BBC.
A staged reading was performed on 3 April 2012 at The Players Club in New York City, presented by TAPT (The Artists' Playground Theater), directed by Alex Kelly and starring Matthew Dure', Robert Lyons, Nichole Donje' Jeffrey Hardy, Steven Hauck, Max Rhyser, Jessica Beaudry and Kate Downey.