Open Space’s Browning Version – their finest ever

The Browning Version

Never shy of a challenge, Open Space Theatre Company’s latest production is a play generally regarded as Terence Rattigan’s finest. Judging by the opening night at Wingfield Barns, it may well also be the company’s finest performance. 

Tim Hall is no stranger to meaty roles, having previously taken on Chekov’s Uncle Vanya and JB Priestley’s Inspector, but on this occasion he truly surpassed himself, with an outstanding and nuanced portrait of a man confronting his personal and professional failures. Humane and compassionate, his performance was perfectly complemented by Emma Martin cleverly underplaying his wife Millie, so that her monstrous nature crept on up an audience whose loyalties had been adroitly misdirected. Ben Willmott offered up a very solid Frank Hunter, no one else but Peter Sowerbutts was ever going to play the utterly vile headmaster, while Leon Bedwell, as the guileless John Taplow, proved to be a valuable addition to the company’s already considerable roster of talent.

Heartrending, authentic and utterly compelling, this was repertory theatre at its very best, demonstrating a deep understanding of the ambiguity and subtlety of Rattigan’s text. It is a production that director David Green and his company should be proud of.

David Vass