Another fabulous review from my friend:-
Julian Mitchell’s 1982 play “ Another Country” revived at the Richmond Theatre and directed by Jeremy Herrin is spellbinding. A wonderful evening’s entertainment, the two hours traffic of our stage simply flew by.
Set in a boarding school in England in the 1930’s the play works on multiple levels. It can be read as a political play about power and class with the boarding school providing an analogy for England. “ Another Country” provides a fascinating insight into how the Cambridge spies – especially Guy Burgess renamed Guy Bennett and played by the brilliantly charismatic Rob Callender – were formed at boarding school and why they betrayed “their” country.
“Another Country” clearly refers to Russia but also the 1930’s as in the phrase the past is” Another Country” they do things differently there. “Another Country” may also be a reference to homosexuality as like living in Another Country? Being a homosexual having to pretend and lie was – is? – ideal training for the life of a spy.
In the moving final scene after his caning, Guy sits down and blood seeps from his wounds onto the cushion suggesting a parallel with menstruation? In the same scene the Revolutionary Communist Tom Judd –superbly rendered by Will Attenborough – makes the connection between the suffragettes and the Gay Movement. The caning scene is climatic and it works brilliantly because we do not see it – we hear it. The sound designer Fergus O’Hare deserves great credit for pulling this off. We hear clipped footsteps on a wooden floor and the “whoosh whip” six times. It is spine chilling. Another wonderful touch was the playing of Jack Buchanan singing “Who stole my heart away?” Stalin? Russia? Another Country?
There are so many wonderful scenes in Another Country with such range from humour and serious debate to pain and despair but all done with economy. To take just one example:- In the dorm before bed time we see a younger boy one of the Fags break down, crying for his mum. Judd takes him in his arms and comforts him, reassures him and puts him into bed. It is deeply moving.
The play is fast moving and keeps up a tremendous momentum always driving towards the final denouement and Guy’s caning. The key moment is Vaughan Cunningham’s lecture and tea afterwards in the Library. Cunningham an elderly gay writer speaks against the Communist Judd and for liberal humanist values. His clinching line comes when he quotes the 19th century art critic Walter Pater; “To burn always with this hard gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life. “
Another Country indubitably keeps Pater’s inspiring vision alive now and in Richmond.