Theatre goers, its a travesty that seats are being left empty for The Winslow Boy at The Old Vic. Having entered the theatre and not knowing what to expect, audiences of all walks of life will find themselves in fits of laughter during the comedic first half and welling up at some of its most poignant moments further in.
The Winslow Boy is the story of an Edwardian British household, who’s head, the father – Arthur Winslow, fights for the justice of his thirteen year old son who is accused of stealing a postal order whilst away at Naval College. Putting the rest of his family at risk in terms or reputation, money and lifestyle, it shows that even in the most trivial of circumstances which could easily be brushed under the carpet, one must fight for what is right and just, even if it means losing everything.
If carried out at the correct pace, and it was demonstrated so excellently here, then The Winslow Boy and indeed other Terrence Rattigan plays can be a delight. This roller coster of emotions plays out excellently here, with every character keeping their ‘stiff upper lip’ whilst fully aware of the consequences they face individually and as a family. Henry Goodman as Arthur Winslow is an excellent leader of this pack. Although riddled with gout and suffering arthritis, his sharp tongue and affectionate charisma towards his family and indeed the audience makes him a loveable central figure we can all relate to.
Naomi Frederick who plays Arthur’s daughter Catherine, demonstrates a strong yet relatable character, reminding us clearly and passionately of the struggles women faced in society at that time – her work with the suffragettes is regarded as pointless and with no sense of hope – she deals with the criticism of her standing with grace and dignity and Frederick manages balance a large array of emotions with effortless ease, making her a character with so many levels that the audience find her a joy to watch.
All the actors in this production provide sterling performances, however, another standout worthy of mention is Charlie Rowe, the Winslow boy himself. It’s clear to see that this young actor has a bright future ahead of him. He treads the boards of the Old Vic with ease and experience beyond his years, with particular examples of excellence being his emotional reaction to Sir Robert Morton’s interrogation where audience members feel so uncomfortable in their seats that they almost want to leap out of your seat and protect the poor boy.
Terrence Rattigan plays are full of fast paced, easy to listen conversations with subtle comedies about them which allow audiences of different generations to relate to and enjoy. For a cast to deliver this as it should be is no easy task, and this cast in particular should be applauded for their efforts and supported for all their hard work. The Winslow Boy is an infectious play which gets under your skin, and makes you think about the characters and their circumstances long after the curtain has fallen. It has an effect on its audience with its relatable nature and charismatic character charms. Well worth a watch, and worthy of all the rave reviews it’s been receiving.