REVIEW: The Winslow Boy at Chichester Festival Theatre

The Winslow Boy
The Winslow Boy
Present Laughter at Chichester Festival Theatre

Rufus finds there's more to Coward than just being witty

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The Birmingham Repertory’s touring production of what is considered by many to be Terence Rattigan’s masterpiece, stops off briefly at the Festival Theatre.

This new staging is revelatory for the fact that it is, far more frequently than expected, belly-laugh funny.

There’s some fine work on view, too.

Tessa Peake-Jones makes an engaging matriarch and milks the comedy for all she’s worth, particularly in the scene where a serious journalistic interview descends into an appreciation of her drawing-room curtains.

Aden Gillett, as her husband, deftly maps the two years’ traffic of this play convincingly, shredding and shedding his health as he pursues his perceived truth – the innocence of his son, accused of stealing from a schoolmate. As that son, Ronnie, 18-year old Misha Butler makes an impressive stage-debut.

Another seamless professional debut comes from an engaging Theo Bamber as Ronnie’s wastrel elder brother and Soo Drouet as the maid is joyous.

Whilst undoubtedly an ensemble piece, special mention must go to Dorothea Myer-Bennett as Catherine Winslow and Timothy Watson as Sir Robert Morton. Their rabid political opposition to one another along with the obvious growing attraction between them is brilliantly conceived by director Rachel Kavanaugh and wonderfully played by the actors.

Catch it if you can.

Until Saturday.