Director Lindsay Steven Posner has done a superb job in transplanting The Old Vic Production of Terence Rattigan’s THE WINSLOW BOY (not seen in New York since 1947 and based on an actual incident) to the American Airlines Theatre with a remarkable new ensemble cast headed by Roger Rees as banker Arthur Winslow.
A determined, strict man with a short fuse whose fourteen-year-old son Ronnie (Spencer Davis Milford) has been accused of robbery and forgery (of a five shilling postal order) at the Royal Naval College – a man who refuses to believe that his favorite and trustworthy son could have done such a deed – a man who will “at all costs” (quite literally) – “let right be done” all the while suffering from a debilitating case of arthritis and a drain on his funds. Will he be successful or will he be forced to give up his idealistic cause?
It’s a riveting journey in pre war England (1912-14) where you will get caught up in the trials and tribulations of the Winslow household as they all face problems resulting from the accusation of this youngster – beautifully portrayed by Mr. Milford.
His older and less favored brother Dickie (Zachary Booth) prefers his gramophone and dancing to studying despite his dad footing the bill at Oxford. Their suffragette sister Catherine (a radiant Charlotte Parry) represents the newly emerging liberated woman – who smokes and speaks her political mind even to her father and continues to wear fashionable hats. She is engaged to John Watherstone (Chandler Williams) whose father doesn’t approve of the erupting scandal and who also provides John with an allowance. Will they wed?
Arthur’s wife Grace (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) fusses about trying to keep peace and abreast of the goings on as the very expensive Sir Robert Morton (the excellent cold and calculating Alessandro Nivola) is asked to take on the case. Sir Robert is a busy man – a man of a few words until he interrogates Ronnie is a spellbinding Act I finale.
His assistant Desmond Curry (a noteworthy and delightful Michael Cumpsty) is in love with Catherine and Sir Robert and Catherine to complicate matters have a Benedict and Beatrice-like relationship (Much Ado About Nothing – which some subtitle the Winslow scandal).
A reporter, Miss Barnes (Meredith Forlenza) and her blasé photographer Fred (Stephen Pilkington) interview Arthur Winslow and she winds up more interested in the fabric of the curtains. A nice touch!
And last but certainly not least is the maid Violet (Henny Russell) – a maid of twenty four years who might have to be fired as the income of the Winslow family dwindles and the cost of keeping Sir Robert on the case eats up what’s left. Ms. Russell positively shines as we discover the outcome.
THE WINSLOW BOY is terrific theatre. Well constructed with sharp and insightful dialogue and humor. The almost three hours fly by and you will be intrigued as to the outcome. Great costumes and set design by Peter McKintosh add to the period drama immensely.
It’s impossible not to think of all those falsely accused of a crime and how long and hard and expensive it is to clear one’s name – to prove one’s innocence – to let right be done.
www.roundabouttheatre.org Photos: Joan Marcus
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