October 29, 1984 12:00 PM

The English can be a funny lot in their subtle ways. This play, produced for the BBC, is based on the true story of an actress, Coral Browne, who played Hamlet in Moscow in 1958 and ran into one of England’s most notorious spies, Guy Burgess. Browne plays herself and Alan Bates is Burgess, a lonely dandy who wants nothing of Browne but a few moments’ company and a new wardrobe from London. “Clothes,” he explains, “have never been the comrades’ strong point.” Australian Browne gives him pity but no sympathy for his cause, which he seems to have forgotten. “If this is communism,” she says, “I don’t like it because it’s dull. And some people think Australia is dull.” This is a play about secrets and about discretion, the soul of civilization. It is a small delight.

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