The Browning Version is, of course, a one-act stage play so finely crafted as to render it actor-proof; a director need only drill the actors until the lines are second nature and train them not to bump into the furniture then he can go home secure in the knowledge that Rattigan will do the rest. Having said that I was frightened as a child by Michael Redgrave's definitive performance as Andrew Crocker-Harris in Puffin Asquith's equally definitive film version and though I have since seen and enjoyed some dozen or so stage productions I have yet to see any actor inhabit the same galaxy as Redgrave in this role nor, I am afraid, does Ian Holm, fine actor that he is, fare any better here. In fact when I come to think of it - and I own and play often the DVD of the Redgrave version - Puffin Asquith was blessed with a more or less dream cast in the shape of Jean Kent, Nigel Patrick and Wilfrid Hyde-White so that Judi Dench, Michael Kitchen and John Woodvine in this television adaptation are left dead in the water by comparison. On the other hand, like the man said, the play's the thing, and this play is a thing of beauty as masterpieces often are.
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