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The Winslow Boy at the Old Vic

April 21, 2013

“Let Right Be Done” is a critical line used from an English Act of Parliament which is the core of Terrance Rattigan‘s play about English Justice, “The Winslow Boy” at the Old Vic. Set in an upper-middle class family drawing room from 1908 to 1912 the play is the story of the efforts by a father to clear his young son’s name after being expelled from naval college accused of stealing.

The play premièred in 1946 and was a hit in the West End. This production had that museum feel initially as if nothing had been changed since 1946. The perfect clipped accents used by the upper-middle classes in the pre-TV days were strange at first. However before I even realised it, I was no longer an observer of the past but I was wrapped up in the family drama on stage. The context changes but the drama within a family is a constant and this makes the play as relevant today as it was in 1946. I was gripped from beginning to end.

Every aspect of this production from the perfect period set and costumes to the engaging performances and tightly directed action by Lindsay Posner suit this play. It is easy to understand why Terrance Rattigan was an audience favourite with his generation. They must have felt like their lives were being reflected right back at them through his carefully crafted relationships between the characters. As a play-write he has a lot to say and I am still thinking about the ramifications for the Winslow family.

Henry Goodman gives a remarkable performance as the father Arthur Winslow and Peter Sullivan is superb as the high flying aristocratic barrister Sir Robert Morton. I liked Nick Hendrix as Dickie Winslow and Charlie Rowe is just excellent as the young boy Ronnie Winslow.

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