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.

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