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Another Country

Published 4 April 2014

What’s it all about?

Not Japan. Not France. Not even Spain. Despite its name, this play is set in England and charts the story of a group of school boys in the 1930s and their reaction to a classmate’s suicide when he takes his own life after being caught having sex with a fellow pupil.

So what’s with the name? The title is thought to have a number of meanings but most timely, given the recent legalisation of gay marriage, is the idea that the past – and indeed the way in which homosexuality was previously viewed – is like another country entirely.

Who’s in it?

Rob Callendar follows in the footsteps of Rupert Everett to portray the outwardly gay Bennett. He perfectly captures the attitude of the school boy, endowing him with confidence and campness in equal measure. He is well supported by Will Attenborough who plays committed communist Judd, the role for which Kenneth Branagh received an Olivier Award in 1982. Attenborough’s Judd is the only boy to show even a hint of kindness to Wharton, a younger boy who misses home and finds comfort in a teddy bear. The timid pupil is played by Bill Milner and the actor captures all of the boy’s anxiety, sadness and indecision, often with comic effect.

The young cast members are joined by Julian Wadham, who returns to play pompous show-off Vaughan Cunningham after playing the role of Barclay in the 1982 production.

What should I look out for?

The seamless and stylish scene changes that take you from inside a boarding school dorm to the lush green lawn of a cricket pitch. Just watch out for the lighting and sound effects that come with them because, as a few individuals in the press night audience discovered, they can often cause quite a fright.

Who was in the press night crowd?

This Olivier Award-winning play attracted some fellow recipients of the prestigious accolades, including Peter McKintosh, not least because he designed the production, and playwright Michael Frayn.

In a nutshell?

Jeremy Herrin directs a sterling cast of young actors, many of whom could well go on to become the Branaghs and Everetts of their generation.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@nuttyscparties A superb production of #AnotherCountry last night at @TrafStudios. A reminder of two superb characters and ambassadors for individualism…

@eggsbened See the terrific revival of taut, smart, moving #AnotherCountry: young (and some old) playwrights could learn from its superb construction

Will I like it?

As the 38th Olivier Awards approaches, Another Country joins recent revivals of Olivier Award-winning plays including The Weir and The Pride to prove just why they won their prizes first time around. Despite being more than three decades old, this tale still resonates today. With its wit, pain and warmth, it was always going to be a hit and in this beautifully staged production by Herrin it is hard not to like.

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