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A: Julian Mitchell Pf: 1981, London Pb: 1982 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Library, head of house's study, dormitory, and cricket field of English public school, early 1930s C: 10mSeventeen-year-old Guy Bennett, a homosexual, and his friend Tommy Judd, a Marxist, rebel against the stifling discipline of Gascoigne House, despite the admonitions of their friend Donald Devenish. Prefect Menzies warns Bennett and Judd that a fellow prefect Fowler is waiting to catch them out, but they are both far cleverer than the bullying Fowler. Martineau, a boy caught by a master in a homosexual act, hangs himself, and the prefects discuss how to minimize the damage to the school's reputation. Bennett attends his widowed mother's second wedding, and returns to school drunk, in love, and resolved to sleep his way to the top. After Martineau's suicide, Devenish's parents decide to remove him from the school, which leaves the unsuitable Judd to become a prefect. The school invites literary intellectual Vaughan Cunningham, Devenish's uncle, to give a talk to the school. Cunningham's bourgeois humanism disgusts Judd, while Bennett senses in the gay author a useful stepping stone. When Bennett is condemned to a beating for being badly turned out on the cadet parade, he threatens to reveal the names of all the boys, including prefects, he has had sex with. Devenish stays on to become a prefect, relieving Judd of potential compromise, and thwarting Fowler's bid to be Head of House.

A: Julian Mitchell Pf: 1981, London Pb: 1982 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Library, head of house's study, dormitory, and cricket field of English public school, early 1930s C: 10m

Offering a thinly disguised portrait of the homosexual double agent Guy Burgess, Mitchell, best known as a novelist, uses, in a more realistic and serious vein than Alan Bennett in Forty Years On, the English public school as a metaphor of the British Establishment. Guy Bennett, with his moral anarchy, and Judd, with his revolutionary aspirations, represent two ways of asserting: ‘there must be a better way to run things’.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Julian Mitchell (b. 1935)


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