South Downs is set at Lancing College in Sussex where a sharp young pupil (a role reprised by Alex Lawther in his 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 an 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 kindness and possibility.
Rattigan's The Browning Version sees 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 a retirement with no money, a simple act of generosity by one of Crocker-Harris’ pupils brings out the deep-rooted dignity and heartbreaking sadness that give this play its power.
Anna Chancellor plays Belinda Duffield in South Downs and Millie Crocker-Harris in The Browning Version.
She has recently been seen on screen in The Hour and on stage The Last Duchess at Hampstead Theatre. Her stage credits include Creditors (Donmar Warehouse and Broadway), The Observer, Never So Good and Stanley (National Theatre and Broadway). Her television work includes Suburban Shootout, Spooks, Tipping the Velvet, Kavanagh QC and the role of Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice alongside Colin Firth. Her film credits include Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Nicholas Farrell plays Reverend Eric Dewley in South Downs and Andrew Crocker-Harris in The Browning Version.
He has been seen in the West End in Birdsong, Kean and The Cherry Orchard. His other stage credits include Stuff Happens and Dinner (National) and The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar and Hamlet (RSC). His film credits include The Iron Lady, Bloody Sunday, Chariots of Fire, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan and Hamlet. His television credits include The Jewel in the Crown.
Anna Chancellor in South Downs. Photo credit: Alastiar Muir
The double bill is presented by Playful Productions, Neal Street Productions and Robert Fox Ltd.
Currently in previews at the Harold Pinter, Alan Ayckbourn's 1974 play Absent Friends opens on 9 February (previews from 26 January 2012). The production, directed by Jeremy Herrin, has a cast which includes Kara Tointon, Reece Shearsmith, Elizabeth Berrington, Katherine Parkinson, David Armand and Steffan Rhodri. It plays a limited season until 14 April 2012.