Rachel Kavanaugh’s revival of Terrance Rattigan’s A WINSLOW BOY is a thrilling legal drama which explores the ages of time, the courts of justice and a close-knit family’s relationship
Written by Terrance Rattigan in 1946, THE WINSLOW BOY tells the story of a family’s fight for their son who has been accused of stealing and cashing a five-shilling (25p) postal order. The story is inspired by a real-life case from 1910 in which the justice of 14-year-old George Archer-Shee is sought after by the most highly regarded barrister and politician Sir Edward Carson.
Set within the blue-walled drawing room of the Winslow’s family home, THE WINSLOW BOY opens with bustling and airheaded parlormaid, Violet (Soo Drouet), walking in on Ronnie Winslow (played by the 18-year-old Misha Butler), who is home early from the Osborne Naval College. Ronnie is too afraid to let on to his father about his expulsion from the college after being accused of stealing a postal order but it isn’t long before Arthur Winslow (Aden Gillet) soon finds out about Ronnie’s wrongdoing.
Believing his son to be innocent, Arthur sets out to prove Ronnie’s innocence and clear his family name. Alongside his charismatic and independent Suffragette daughter, Catherine Winslow (Dorothea Myer-Bennet), Arthur finds himself battling with the pressure of the media spotlight, visits from uninterested journalists, hard decisions, financial hardships and his deteriorating health. He is supported by his scatterbrained older son Dickie (Theo Bamber) who has to sacrifice his studies at Oxford for the cost of the case, his loving but apprehensive wife Grace (Tessa Peake-Jones) and of course the hard-shelled and snooty Sir Robert Morton (Timothy Watson), who, after a scrupulous interrogation of the young Dickie which leaves him in tears, agrees to take on the case.
Courageous, highly-charged and delicately humorous, A WINSLOW BOY is a thrilling legal drama that will have you gripped from the start. Director Rachel Kavanaugh brings to stage not only the central themes of the original story but also a hilarious cast whose interactions retell the story with finesse. These well-rounded characters help to create a witty sense of humour throughout the production, adding to the intense mystery of what will happen next in this time-consuming case. The tense relationship between Catherine and Morton also has the audience in fits of giggles, hinting at something more between the two by the end of the case.
A major building block of THE WINSLOW BOY is how the storyline unfolds through conversation all within the one room. No courts, wigs or juries are shown and everything is portrayed through natural conversation between the family and a few visitors. The play, set over 100 years ago, works particularly well in doing this by enticing and emotionally gripping the audience from start to end with an underlying sense of involvement and curiosity.
In a time when war was knocking on the door and women were yet to have the vote, THE WINSLOW BOY also creates an amusing portrait of a family under attack. This two and a half hour voyage has the audience engaged non-stop and the search to ‘let right be done’ is well worth fighting for. A must see for all!
A WINSLOW BOY runs at The Lowry until 14 April 2018.
Lauren is a student journalist and reporter for Mancunian Matters. Originally from Zimbabwe, Lauren has a love for writing and photography. Her hobbies consist of coffee shops, blogging, travel and art and if you can’t find her around, she will most definitely be at the gym!