1962: A public school on the South Downs.
John Blakemore is a solitary boy who finds it impossible either to understand or adapt to the ways of the school. His adolescent earnestness put off teacher and pupil alike. And now suddenly he seems to be in danger of losing his only friend.
David Hare's emotional new play, written at the invitation of the Rattigan estate as a response to The Browning Version, is a meditation on faith, learning and teenage friendship, played against the backdrop of a Britain still fighting to maintain an established rule.
Collected with South Downs is the text of Hare's lecture Mere Fact, Mere Fiction, delivered to the Royal Society of Literature in 2010. In a famous defence of documentary theatre, the author celebrates the power of metaphor to transform factual quite as much as fictional material.
David Hare's first full-length play was produced in 1970. Since then he has written over thirty stage plays and twenty-five screenplays for film and television. The plays include Plenty, Pravda (with Howard Brenton), The Secret Rapture, Racing Demon, Skylight, Amy's View, The Blue Room, Via Dolorosa, Stuff Happens, The Absence of War, The Judas Kiss, The Red Barn and The Moderate Soprano. For cinema, he has written The Hours, The Reader, Damage, Denial, Wetherby and The White Crow among others, while his television films include Licking Hitler, the Worricker Trilogy (Page Eight, Turks & Caicos, and Salting the Battlefield) and Collateral. In a millennial poll of the greatest plays of the twentieth century, five of the top hundred were his.