The Browning Version: Terence Rattigan's Touching Drama from Pacific Resident Theatre
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The last date listed for The Browning Version was Saturday April 24, 2010 / 8:00pm.
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from christopher brisson
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Pacific Resident Theatre has offered a very solid staging of a mid-century classic.
Bruce French's performance in the lead role is beautifully etched, giving his character the many(both pitiable and heroic) dimensions that Rattigan intended. And Orson Bean can really do no wrong! His cameo here is spot-on wonderful; he nails the charming but disingenuous aspects of the headmaster with aplomb.
The biggest problem with the play is the casting/chemistry between Millie and Frank (Sally Smythe and Michael Balsley). Not for a single moment is one convinced that these two are or were lovers. With an approximate 25 year age difference between these actors there needs to be some sizzling chemistry to make their relationship believable, but there is not a whiff of it on display here. Both performances suffer for this serious omission.
Also, Smythe, a very capable actress, is miscast. Her dark, plummy voice is wonderful, but she plays the character with such brittle intensity from the get-go that we immediately suspect she is a monster. This is a shame, because when played with a softer touch at the start, Millie is positioned for a late reveal in character which Rattigan quite strategically places near the end of the play; indeed, one which crucially drives the action in the last third. Smythe's harsh portrayal from the very start telegraphs this late development in the script all too soon. (Would love to see her in a production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" though.)
Newcomer Justin Preston handles his important role well, while the couple playing the newly married Gilbert's (Michael Redfield and Caitlin Beitel) are far less confident and persuasive. Their performances make the play wobble slightly in its latter half, and remind you just how dynamic French and Bean are.
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This is another old chestnut that the PRT does so well--even if too frequently: new plays would be welcomed although I do wonder if their subscriber base prefers the old. (And even if they do, this may not be the way to increase that base. We were...continued
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Good acting and great venue but I didn't like the story. My partner and I fell asleep a few times.
Quotes & Highlights
Winner of 3 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards
“The Browning Version is a consummately satisfying theatrical outing. But it’s also a subliminally disturbing one. Rattigan understands what audiences think they want as well as what they don’t know they want. And the secret to his success is that he provides both.“_ —”Los Angeles Times":http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/12/the-browning-version-terence-rattigan-lives-at-pacific-resident-theatre.html_
“Fox directs this piece with masterful subtlety and draws devastatingly convincing performances from her actors.” -LA Weekly
“The actors give amazing performances, under Marilyn Fox’s elegant direction.” -Backstage
Written by Terence Rattigan
Produced by Sara Newman-Martins
Rattigan’s 1949 masterpiece brilliantly explores the complexity of the human heart. It predates Albee’s Who’s Afriad of Virginia Woolf in its scathing examination of a marriage. A contemporary of Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham, Rattigan’s wit and depth remain timeless.
This production was listed in Charles McNulty’s Top 10 Theatre Performances for 2009.