Thursday, November 27, 2014

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NY1 Theater Review: 'The Winslow Boy'

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The Roundabout Theater Company has just debuted a new production of British playwright Terence Rattigan's 1946 play "The Winslow Boy." NY1's Roma Torre filed the following report.

Terence Rattigan's 1946 play was based on an actual case in pre-World War I England. Led by Roger Rees, the entire company in this beautifully staged historical British drama is top shelf!

Rees plays Arthur Winslow, a rather typical Englishman, with a stiff upper lip and ingrained sense of British dominance. The play is set in the family drawing room, where we first meet Arthur's distraught 14-year-old son Ronnie, who's been expelled from military school for stealing a five-shilling postal order. Maintaining his innocence, Ronnie is relieved to find that his father believes him.

Though it's a minor offense, Arthur is determined to clear his son's name all the way to the top of the British judicial system. At great financial and emotional cost, he hires prominent barrister Sir Robert Morton to take the case. Over a period of two years, the stress and notoriety take a near ruinous toll on the entire family.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Arthur's wife Grace, a flustered, nurturing woman, is well named and perfectly played. Equally impressive are Charlotte Parry as suffragette daughter Catherine and Michael Cumpsty, an awkward suitor. As the brilliant but emotionally stunted Sir Robert, Alessandro Nivola has tremendous presence and Rees is bravura as a man physically falling apart yet spiritually revived.

In other hands, "The Winslow Boy" could be slow going at nearly three hours, but director Lindsay Posner deserves much credit for doing great justice to this rich old play.

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