Rattigan's 1948 drama is set in an English boarding school on the eve of the master's retirement. Loathed by his students, fellow masters and despised by his attractive but unfaithful wife, Crocker-Harris looks back over two dismal decades of underachievement and contemplates his bleak future.
The 1951 film version, directed by Michael Asquith, won its star Michael Redgrave (who died in 1985) the Cannes Film Festival's Best Actor Award, and many consider his performance as Crocker-Harris the definitive role of his career.
In a feature this week in The Guardian, Corin Redgrave (pictured) said he would not be attempting to imitate his father's famous performance. "I feel no compulsion at all to copy my father's performance. Quite the contrary," he writes. "Like most actors today, I have an almost morbid fear of copying....And when the other actor in question is my father, the stakes are even higher. If I am less good than he was, even if I am the only person to know that, I shall have failed. If I am better, even if only in my own estimation, I shall have killed him, if only at the crossroads of my own imagination."
A familiar face to TV viewers, most recently for his starring role in the new Carlton adaptation of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga, Redgrave is a stage veteran whose recent credits at the National Theatre have included No Man's Land, The Cherry Orchard, In Extremis/De Profundis and Not About Nightingales (for which he received Best Actor nominations from the Olivier, Tony and Drama Desk Awards). Amongst his other theatre productions are A Song at Twilight, The Romans and Some Sunny Day. His recent films include Shackleton, Enigma, Honest and In the Name of the Father.
Following his short Derby season, Redgrave will appear at this summer's Chichester Festival in his self-penned one-man show about the life of a KGB spy, Blunt Speaking, which is also directed by Mark Clements. It runs at the West Sussex playhouse from 23 July to 10 August 2002.
- by Terri Paddock