The Winslow Boy

Date 2nd April 2022
Society Stage Two Downham
Venue Hurst Green Memorial Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Jacqui Shepherd
Written By Terrence Rattigan

Report

Author: Paul R. Mason

Terence Rattigan’s “The Winslow Boy '' is a modern classic. Written in 1946 and filmed a couple of times, it exudes a remarkable power to challenge audiences in a number of ways.

Watching the play in close proximity to Stonyhurst College, where young “Ronnie Winslow” was educated, added poignancy.

There are so many themes to consider. Father son relations, trust, personal responsibility, the power of the establishment, self denial and issues of integrity, being just a small selection.

Jacqui Shepherd making her directorial debut had assembled a strong cast. None more impressive than Kim Croydon as Arthur. Mr. Winslow is a man nurtured by firm Victorian values. The role requires him to demonstrate a range of emotions while attempting always to pay due regard to that most English of characteristics, the stiff upper lip in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Kim allowed us to see into his soul, to observe the turmoil he knows he must never reveal to the rest of his family. Only when the future prospect of his much loved daughter is threatened does his mask momentarily slip. Arthur’s dogged determination to see “Right” prevail is the nub of the play. Rattigan takes us on a journey to show us how he achieves his aim. It is a master stroke of the playwright that Arthur is shown becoming increasingly infirm as the rigours of his ordeal take their physical toll.


Grace, Mrs. Winslow, has much to put up with. Kate Herron showed us how a well to do suburban housewife manages to cope with privations suddenly and unexpectedly thrown at her. It was a fine performance managing to gain our sympathy and for us to secretly wish her well in her endeavours to hold the family together while offering unstinting support to her husband.

Her daughter, Catherine Winslow, in the two years the play covers, undergoes a transformation. Realising by the end of the play that prejudice and the temptation to make easy assumptions can have unfortunate consequences her character offers an important reminder to us all.

Confident, intelligent and assured Jenny Spurrett showed us an impressively rounded character.

Dickie Winslow, the wayward Oxford student, is a doomed youth. We are meant to put up with his very minor irresponsible behaviour. When he does find his feet and appears to be flourishing after leaving university he is immensely proud to announce his recruitment into the Territorial Army. “No, no” we inwardly scream, knowing a muddy field in France is waiting patiently for him for a few years hence. A fate, the programme chillingly
reminded us, that was to befall his brother, the real Winslow Boy. It is in some ways the most powerful statement of the whole play. Lucas Bowers did all that he was supposed to do in letting us see a thoroughly decent young man we would be proud to call a friend, yet a character representing so much more in the context of the setting of the play.

Kenny Entwistle I thought looked a trifle too old to still only hold subaltern rank. That aside, his playing of John Watherstone was consistent. A man too concerned with what the world might think of him, unprepared to stand
up to his father. The role is in essence the direct opposite of his erstwhile father in law.

As the maid, Violet, Geralyn Lambert grasped the chance to shine with both hands. As the vox populi Violet had some neat comic moments richly delivered and appreciated by the audience only too keen to relish a few seconds away from the agony experienced by the family.

Likewise Dianne Rimmer played the part of the journalist with fine flourishes of disdain and disinterest. Another role offering a modicum of light relief is that of the solicitor Desmond Curry.

Alan Herron had great fun with the role. An honourable man. I appreciated his curtain call bowling action!

Chris Bowers is an accomplished actor. From the moment he appeared right up to the end he held our attention. His grilling of young Dickie was mesmerising in its targeted brutality. Able to command the stage Chris was the epitome of the legal professional.

Joseph Oakes, as young Ronnie Winslow (the boy), successfully showed us a range of emotions. From the scared confused rain sodden exiled boy cadet of his first appearance to the happy well adjusted young adult he becomes by the play's conclusion. Joseph has a rosy future ahead of him on the stage possessing the potential to hone his undoubted skills to become a much sought after player.

Jacqui Shepherd deserves high praise for crafting such a satisfying thought provoking drama. Her regard for the play was apparent.

Congratulations to everyone concerned in any way with this production.

I must add that I thought the venue was ideal.

PS (The bar ladies were a personable merry couple adept in making us all feel welcome).

PRM.