THE WINSLOW BOY
by Terence Rattigan.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Anthony Hopkins Theatre) CH7 1YA To 1 June 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 2 May, 4 May 2.45pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3565.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 25 May.
Detailed and exciting production of a beautifully constructed drama.
Famously tossed into the dustbin of dramatic history, Terence Rattigan leaps out yet again with this 1946 play based on an Edwardian case. Relevance is written through it, in the battle between individual rights and their submission to state interests.
Like all Rattigan’s best work it occupies a middle-class world threatened by poverty. Even in the opening act, where Terry Hands’ detailed production encourages comedy, financial considerations impinge. And the cost of Arthur Winslow clearing his son from the charge of theft at naval college affects Ronnie Winslow’s older brother and sister.
Rattigan’s famous emotional restraint runs through the production too, in Kai Owen’s terminally nervous solicitor soliciting Catherine’s hand, past cricketing glories increasing his sense of failure, or the hesitant affectionate touch Grace gives her husband near the start.
As the campaigning father Joshua Richards has a dry irony, but speaks in one quiet breath when emotional ground’s being covered. Eleanor Howell, as his daughter, combines principled politics with humour and humanity, while Simon Dutton never loses his grand barrister’s formality, yet increasingly shows in gestures and expression his liking for her. Only loyal, loud family servant Violet, played with sympathetic comedy by Vivienne Moore, openly expresses her feelings,
Mark Bailey’s set aggrandises the Winslow’s room, stranding the actors in a large space, where their familiar world is invaded by perplexity. The huge window looks-out on the garden where young Ronnie shivers in the rain, a disturbance in a garden where everything seems lovely.
As the case takes over, the exterior darkens and curtains close, before light and openness are restored for the final act. Only the woman reporter, caricatured like a journalistic Miss Prism with carpet-bag and large feather in her cap, is discordant – though Siân Howard, as Mrs Winslow, restores apt comic humanity to the scene.
Laurie Kynaston contrasts Ronnie’s terror and subsequent indifference, while Steffan Donnelly’s irresponsible brother neatly transforms from idle student to be-suited bank-worker, contrasting two kinds of Edwardian airhead.
For all his turkey-trotting, Dickie introduces the coming War, which will bring an overwhelming attack on the principles for which Winslow, and Winslow, stands.
Ronnie Winslow: Laurie Kynaston.
Violet: Vivienne Moore.
Grace Winslow: Siân Howard.
Arthur Winslow: Joshua Richards.
Catherine Winslow: Eleanor Howell.
Dickie Winslow: Steffan Donnelly.
John Watherstone: Daniel Llewelyn-Williams.
Desmond Curry: Kai Owen.
Miss Barnes: Victoria John.
Fred: Sam Blythe.
Sir Robert Morton: Simon Dutton.
Director/Lighting: Terry Hands.
Designer: Mark Bailey.
Sound: Matthew Williams.
Composer: Colin Towns.
Choreographer: Rachel Catherall.