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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Browning Version - A Play in One Act (Acting Edition)
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on 3 August 2013
'Classic' is a term used too often these days to describe films, books, plays and television. The Browning Version, however, can truly be said to warrant such an accolade. It was written in the late 1940s and is still relevant today examining, as it does, human relationships, betrayal and sadness. Whilst other plays of this period (and even later) have come to be regarded as having little to say to a modern audience The Browning Version is still capable of evoking an emotional reaction today. It may be set in the rarefied atmosphere of a public school but it's themes are universal and it's poignancy will be felt by anyone capable of empathy or who has an ounce of sensitivity in their being.

The play is not without sentiment but it is not 'sentimental' as (say for the sake of argument) is Goodby Mr. Chips.

This is quite a short play, perhaps one hour fifteen minutes running time. Anyone interested in theatre should find this excellently written play worthwhile.
2 people found this helpful
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on 10 August 2017
No probs
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on 3 October 2017
Very enjoyable version of this great playl
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on 19 November 2014
What can I say. A true masterpiece that captures "the human condition" in just 75 minutes. Amazing to think that Terence Rattigan wrote this at the age of 35. Mature and incisive beyond his years.
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on 10 May 2017
The Browning Version is Terence Rattigan’s beautiful 1948 play about a man passing beyond defeat to renewed resistance.

Crocker-Harris or ‘the Crock’ as he is known, not necessarily affectionately, to many both amongst the staff and among the pupils of the school where he is about to end an eighteen-year career due to ill health, is gradually revealed to have been defeated at every level.

His valuable and highly competent contribution to the life of the school is casually exploited but not respected – or even recognised. Among staff and pupils alike he is seen as both a figure of fun and as an authoritarian to be feared. His wife doesn’t even disguise her contempt for him, and is in any case betraying him with a man who is the only one of his colleagues presented to us as, perhaps, a friend.

Rattigan takes us down a terrible descent as we discover each of these humiliations and injuries in turn. But then, at the bottom of the slope, Crocker-Harris turns and Rattigan shows us something else. The Crock isn’t a broken man, and indeed he can draw not only on internal strength but on an affection and loyalty from others of which he was unaware (though the audience less so, if it picks up an early hint).

The play ends exactly as it should, with no attempt to tie up all the loose ends. Instead it hints at a future less bleak than we might have suspected. And, above all, with a small gesture that somehow resonates far more loudly than anything far greater might have done, in which Crocker-Harris reasserts himself and his humanity. A delicate, pastel-shaded ending entirely in harmony with the tone of understated expression of the whole play, all the more powerful for relying heavily on implication.

The Audible version is well performed and a joy to listen to. It is also followed by an interview with one of the authors of a Rattigan biography which provides some beguiling insights into his work and his attitude. We even learn why the play is so short: Rattigan felt the theatre needed some short plays which could dispense with an interval, so as to maintain intensity and keep the audience concentrating on the play’s themes.

Both for the play itself and for this performance of it, listening to this version is an uplifting and powerful experience.
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on 29 September 2001
There is a fine balance to be achieved in every person's life. It is the decision of every individual to qualify where their balance lies. There are webs of imperfection, extremity, veiled truth and self-deceit that are slowly, carefully and brilliantly unwoven by a craftsman at his very best.
The setting of a boy's public school is pertinent and relevant with regards to the way characters connect with each other. It is equally powerful when you understand that these personalities exist, love, loathe and manipulate each other in every corner of society. Need, emptiness and grief are universal.
This is a subtle, devastating play. If you believe King Lear contains hope, then you will also be able to spot it at the end of this play as well.
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on 2 January 2010
Nuanced, beautiful writing, and character analysis that is ruthless, real and aching with loss. In my view, the play seems to be portraying a character who is the underdog, and yet saying that there is great strength in that; perhaps it takes greater strength to always put the needs of others first, to allow your own feelings to be ignored, and this is certainly what he does in the way that he responds to his wife's needs. It is also detectable that, in his stirring final speech to the school, that he has always put his pupils before him, and yet has interpreted their fearful respect of him as a failure on his part.

The students give him a standing ovation. We are perhaps supposed to think that he has been a 'good' teacher after all. However, being a teacher myself, this moment always leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling: I have found that all students, almost without exception, like Taplow, wish their teachers well. Contrary to popular stereotype, teenagers are without the cynical streak that adults are so often burdened with. I wonder if the students' applause is sympathy rather than true respect, however. They feel for him, but does that mean that he was actually any good, or was he really the monster that he believes himself to be? I like to think that his damning self-evaluation is wrong and that it is in his very lack of complacency, and self-critical outlook, that suggests he was, after all, an inspiring teacher.

In the 1994 adaptation, Albert Finney's performance of this superbly subtle play is stunning. It has me in tears every time. It is my favourite film!

The Browning Version [DVD] [1994]The Browning Version [VHS] [1994]The Browning Version (Nick Hern Books)The Browning Version (Acting Edition)The Browning Version (Nick Hern Books)
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on 17 January 2001
This is a great great play. A miniature masterpiece of restraint, suppressed emotion and tempestuous love. Set in a schoolmaster's room, it's been filmed twice, revived many times, a real classic where every line seethes with subtlety and ambiguity. Emotionally rich and raw. Extraordinary. One of the great British plays of the twentieth century.
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on 11 August 2010
Rattigan, this most subtle and Chekhovian of English playwrights, is moving because, in some way, the play is an unfinished symphony. The reader and the audience put the finishing touches... Read it and watch the film with Albert Finney!
4 people found this helpful
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on 10 October 1999
Set entirely in a Public Schoolmasters living room this play is boring and not worth the effort.
It is full of stereo typical characters and plot.
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