Arts & Culture

The Winslow Boy at Oxford Playhouse

By John Charlton

Terence Rattigan’s classic family drama was a great success at the Oxford Playhouse this week.

The play follows the near collapse of a middle class family in Edwardian England after the youngest son Ronnie is accused of stealing a five shilling postal order while at the Royal Navy College. Expelled and sent home the family decide to fight the accusation and restore justice. The case becomes a national scandal and the Winslow family become reluctant celebrities across England. The legal case is also discussed in Parliament and is widely covered in the national press.

The family’s fortunes fade as the impact of taking legal action against the Royal Naval College causes considerable financial pain. The eldest son Dickie has to leave Oxford University as his parents can no longer afford the fees and daughter Catherine’s marriage engagement is cancelled due to the family scandal. The health of Ronnie’s father Arthur is also badly affected.

All the action takes place in the Winlsow’s drawing room and as the story progresses we see the real impact with the family possessions slowly disappearing in order to finance the case.

The play is really well paced and although tragic in many respects there are moments of quick wit and humour.

Tessa Peake-Jones appears as Grace Winslow, the mother of Ronnie, the accused cadet. Now well-known as ‘Mrs Maguire’ in ITV1’s Grantchester, Peake-Jones has had a long, varied career including ‘Raquel’ in Only Fools and Horses. Special mention goes to a wonderful performance by Aden Gillett who plays Arthur Winslow, the proud and determined father of Ronnie. Other notable performances from Timothy Watson who plays Sir Robert Morton, Ronnie’s defence barrister and Dorothea Myer-Bennett who portrays the feisty suffragette daughter fighting alongside her father for justice and the truth.

The play runs until Saturday 17 March.

Tickets for The Winslow Boy at Oxford Playhouse start at £10 and are available from the Ticket Office on 01865 305305 or book online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com