The Winslow Boy, Rose Theatre, Kingston-on-Thames, May 2009


This new production, which is about to go on tour, gave us a terrific performance of Terence Rattigan’s enthralling play about a teenage boy wrongly accused of stealing a five shilling postal order at Naval College. The case, based on a true story, goes all the way to Parliament. This fine production directed by Stephen Unwin, with costumes by Mark Bouman, and sets by Simon Higlett showing the drawing room in the Winslow’s house, worked very well. The acting was entirely natural and this theatrical play came over with complete conviction. What a very pleasant change from the dreadfully untheatrical play Madame de Sade, which I saw earlier the same week.

The cast all did an excellent job, particularly Claire Cox as the Winslow boy’s big sister Catherine, showing great intelligence and emotional restraint. Timothy West gave a commanding performance as his father, with Diane Fletcher as a sympathetic mother who laments the financial and emotional strain created by her husband’s consuming passion for justice. Adrian Lukis added a terrifyingly professional quality as Sir Robert Morton the famous barrister who is surprisingly willing to take on this seemingly trivial case, and prove the boy’s innocence. As the boy Ronnie, Hugh Wyld acquitted himself well, as did Thomas Howes as his elder, happy-go-lucky brother. Sarah Flind was good as the maid, and John Sackville and Roger May were convincing as the young men who would woo Catherine — the first rejecting her when she refuses to drop her brother’s case, and the second willing to wed even though she can feel no love for him.

This is a well-crafted play that starts slowly, building up to the entrance of the famous barrister Sir Robert who undertakes a ferociously provocative interrogation of young Ronnie. After it’s over his remark, “The boy is plainly innocent. I accept the brief”, is a real coup de theatre, followed immediately by the fall of the curtain on the first half. The audience responded well to the performance, and choice lines such as, “the House of Commons is a peculiarly exhausting place, with too little ventilation and far too much hot air” caused well deserved laughter, particularly in view of recent events in parliament. Altogether a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

After playing at the Rose in Kingston the play tours: Cambridge Arts Theatre 1st – 6th June, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford 8th – 13th June, Theatre Royal Bath 15th – 20th June, Oxford Playhouse 22nd – 27th June, Malvern Theatres 29th June – 4th July, Milton Keynes Theatre 6th – 11th July, Churchill Theatre Bromley 13th – 18th July, Brighton Theatre Royal 20th – 25th July.

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