Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, is a charming masterpiece. Having been expelled from the Royal Naval College for stealing a five shilling postal order, young cadet Ronnie Winslow and his family are pulled apart by the repercussions of this charge. Set against the values of London in 1910, the Winslow family fight to clear his name. A highly charged moral play that is a perfect blend of drama and comedy.
The simplicity of the set is refreshing, as the entire play takes place in the Winslow’s living room. It is static with action happening on and off stage. It is comfortable and we are absorbed in the action, feeling like part of the furniture. At times we feel like a fly on the wall, with focus purely on the storytelling. The colour scheme of greens and browns throughout the play is reflected in the set, props and character costumes and enhances the periodic fashion and style. Subtle lighting and sound elements move the story on in a realistic way. A simple projection throughout the play of the house of commons is all the spectator needs to give the impression of another location.
There is a particularly brilliant and compelling scene between young Ronnie and Sir Robert Norton in which we witness young Ronnie being tested to discover if he is innocent or guilty. The characters are intense and raw, each one perfectly bringing their personality to the scene, whether it be a look, glance or a subtle movement. It is captivating and the tension reaches a climax yet is cleverly brought back down to a sense of calm with a perfectly timed comedic moment, allowing us to reflect during the interval. It is an insightful, knowledgeable and stylised piece of naturalistic theatre.
Written by @BeccaPhillipson