The Browning Version - A Play in One Act
EPUB EBook by Terence Rattigan
EBook DescriptionAlthough The Browning Version is a classic on stage and film, partly because the main roles are so attractive to the best actors, it is worth reading, because you see different aspects of the play on page. The Browning Version - EPUB A Play in One Act EPUB EBook For example, although Terence Rattigan’s retiring schoolmaster is almost always played on stage as an older man, perhaps in his fifties, the chronology given in the play makes him somewhere from late thirties to early forties. The idea that a relatively young man can be so downtrodden, both professionally and personally, has poignancy quite different from that of the more common caricature of an elderly failure.
The core of the play is a standard love-triangle, where the cuckolded husband has his consolation prize of the love of one of his pupils snatched from him by his spiteful wife. (All wives in 20th century literature are spiteful.) She turns the boy’s parting gift of a copy of the Agamemnon as translated by Robert Browning into a poisoned chalice.
The lines from the play that everybody quotes come when the schoolmaster briefly meets his young replacement.
GILBERT. The headmaster said you ruled them with a rod of iron. He called you “the Himmler of the lower fifth.”Some modern directors replace the word “Himmler” with “Hitler”, presumably because they do not trust the audience to know who Heinrich Himmler was, and even though the modification makes complete nonsense of the play. Himmler was as far from the raving maniac that Hitler was as is possible; download; he was a humourless, vacillating personality who hid his insecurities behind a façade of manic hard work and attention to detail.
ANDREW. Did he? “The Himmler of the lower fifth.” I think he exaggerated. I hope he exaggerated. “The Himmler of the lower fifth.”
GILBERT. (puzzled) He only meant you kept the most wonderful discipline.
—The Browning Version, Terence Rattigan (1948)
Britain produced a slew of brilliant playwrights during the 19th century, starting with “genteel” authors like Noël Coward and Terence Rattigan and going on to the “angry young men” of the post WWII years. Rattigan was one of the most interesting, because although he was an Old Harrovian with all that implies about being a member of the upper classes, his politics were firmly leftwing and that does come through in his plays, but subtly.
Terence Rattigan was (and is) not popular amongst the professional critics, but he remains hugely popular with audiences and actors. The Browning Version is a regular offering at regional playhouses.
Like this book? Read online this: 30 Ten-Minute Plays for 3 Actors from Actors Theatre of Louisville's National Ten-Minute Play Contest, 'Porphyria's Lover' by Robert Browning.
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