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Following a critically acclaimed and sold out run as part of Chichester's Festival 2011, the double bill of Terence Rattigan's one-act masterpiece The Browning Version and David Hare's specially commissioned companion piece, South Downs will transfer to the Harold Pinter Theatre from April 19th with a Press Night on April 24th.

Anna Chancellor and Nicholas Farrell will once again lead the casts in these plays which examine life in boarding public schools.  Rattigan's own Harrow school and Hare's own Lancing College provide the backdrop for two moving and resounding stories, one told through the eyes of a master and one told through the eyes of a boy.  Both revolve around unexpected acts of kindness which place the harsh and at times cruel worlds of these schools into stark contrast.

South Downs is set at Lancing College where a pin shop young people (a role reprised by young actor Alex Lawther, celebrated for this professional debut) is cut off from the rest of the school by virtue of his own intellect, background and questioning spirit.  The school in response presents and unyielding and rigid outlook on life that leaves the boy isolated and confused.  In an unlikely meeting with the mother of another pupil,  her generosity of spirit and sound advice present the boy with a world of kindliness and possibility.

Rattigan's The Browning Version presents the retiring Classics master Mr Crocker-Harris, tired, dried up and an abhorred tyrant over his pupils.  Stuck in a broken marriage and facing the prospect of retirement with no money, a simple act of generosity by one of Crocker-Harris's pupils brings out the deep-rooted dignity and heartbreaking sadness that give this play its power.

South Downs is directed by Jermey Herrin whose work in 2011 included Joe Penhall's Haunted Child (Royal Court), Death and the Maiden (Harold Pinter Theatre) and the critically acclaimed Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare's Globe).  In 2007 Herrin directed the UK premiere of another David Hare play: The Vertical Hour (Royal Court) as well as Polly Stenham's That Face (also Royal Court), which later transferred to the West End.

The Browning Version is directed by Chichester Festival Theatre Associate Angus Jackson whose credits at Chichester include Wallenstein, Funny Girl, The Waltz of the Torreadors and Carousel.  At the National Theatre Jackson has directed Elmina's Kitchen, Fix Up, Rocket the Moon and the Power of Yes (by David Hare).  His production of Bingo, starring Patrick Stewart, and originally part of Chichester's Festival 2010, transfer to the Young Vic this month.

Anna Chancellor plays Belinda Duffield in South Downs adn Millie Crocker-Harris in The Browning Version.  She has recently been seen on screen as Lix in BBC 2's drama The Hour and onstage as Lady Caroline Blackman in The Last Duchess (Hampstead Theatre).  Her credits include Creditors (Donmar Warehouse and Broadway), The Observer, Never So Good and Stanley (National Theatre and Broadway), for which she received an Olivier Award nomination.  Pevious television credits include Suburban Shootout, Spooks, Tipping the Velvet, Kavanagh QC and the role of Caroline Bingley in the popular BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.  Film credits include the role of Ducface, Hugh Grant's jilted fiancee in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Nicholas Farrell plays Reverand Eric Dewley in South Downs and Andrew Crocker-Harris in The Browing Version.  His theatre credits include West End productions of Birdsong, Kean and The Cherry Orchard.  Other theatre credits include Stuff Happens and Dinner (National Theatre) and The Merchant of Venice, Julius Ceasar and Hamlet (all for the RSC).  His film credits include Airey Neave in The Iron Lady, Bloody Sunday, Chariots of Fire, Greystoke:The Legend of Tarzan and Hamlet.  Television credits include the acclaimed production The Jewell In The Crown.

Joining Anna Chancellor and Nicholas Farrell in the company are Jonathan Bailey, Andrew Woodall, Mark Umbers, Amanda Fairbank-Hynes, Bradley Hall, Rob Heaps, Alex Lawther and Liam Morton.

[posted 07/02/2012]

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