Words by Lucy Mounfield / Pics courtesy of the Birmingham REP
On Wednesday 21st February, a major new revival of Terence Rattigan’s much loved The Winslow Boy will begin its run at the Birmingham REP – being performed at the theatre until Saturday 3rd March.
A preview performance will be held on Wednesday 21st at 7.30pm at a reduced price of £10, as well as a matinee at 2pm on Thursday 22nd. Further matinee’s will be every Saturday and Thursday at 2pm, whilst evening performances will be from 7.30pm Monday to Saturday.
The standard price will be £15 although ticket prices vary depending on the date and time of performance, as well as seat positioning. For direct show information, including a full breakdown of performances and online ticket sales, click here.
Terence Rattigan is recognised as one of the most eminent dramatists of the twentieth century. His plays are regularly being revived, most notably French Without Tears (1936), Flare Path (1942), The Browning Version (1948) and The Deep Blue Sea (1952) – the latter of which was adapted to film in 2011 by Terence Davies, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston. To further mark the centenary of Rattigan’s birth, Trevor Nunn also revived Flare Path in 2011 for the West End to critical acclaim.
But during the 1950s and 60s, Rattigan fell out of favour with the theatre. His depictions of the upper-middle class were seen as old-fashioned and out of place, whilst dramatists such as John Osborne and Harold Pinter were depicting social change and a Britain both divided by class and fatigued by war. Today’s productions of Rattigan’s work highlight his central themes of English reticence, repression, outsiders, and courageous truth seekers.
The Winslow Boy was first produced at the Lyric Theatre, London, on May 3rd 1946, with notable names such as Angela Baddeley and Emlyn Williams in the cast. The play is written by Terence Rattigan but is based on a true story of a legal case that erupted during the early nineteen-hundreds. A naval cadet at Osborne Naval College is accused and expelled for stealing a five-shilling postal order. The boy’s family, convinced of his innocence, are persuaded to take the case to court to clear the family name and restore their honour.
Rattigan’s sets The Winslow Boy in London prior to the First World War and opens the family to scrutiny. The cadet, Ronnie Winslow, returns home after his stay at the Naval College with a letter of expulsion for stealing. Without a school inspection or trial, he is sentenced for a crime he denies he committed; the Winslow family must seek the truth to restore the order and balance to their home.
The determination of his father in seeking justice is the crux of the narrative and ultimately the undoing of the family’s happiness. And whilst the play may be ‘old-fashioned’ in the period detail and writing style, in an age where ‘fake news’ reigns it is surely an interesting bridge to an epoch when English values and the notion of familial honour could easily be ripped apart by scandal.
Olivier Award winning Rachel Kavanaugh, the former Birmingham REP Artistic Director, will be directing this new production of The Winslow Boy and overseeing a formidable cast including Tessa Peake-Jones (Only Fools and Horses) as the matriarch Grace Winslow, Aden Gillett (House of Elliot) as the father Arthur Winslow, and Timothy Watson (The Archers) as barrister Sir Robert Morton. Joining this fantastic company of actors, and making his stage debut as Ronnie Winslow, is Misha Butler.
The Winslow Boy – an interview with the director and principal cast
The Winslow Boy runs at the Birmingham REP from Wednesday 21st February to Saturday 3rd March. For direct show information, including a full breakdown of performances and online ticket sales, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/the-winslow-boy
For more from the Birmingham REP, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk