November 25, 2013 | 13301 views
On and Off Broadway
'The Winslow Boy'
A Review by Elyse Trevers
If you aren’t already familiar with the 1946 play The Winslow Boy, by Terrence Rattigan, you are in for a special evening. The story tells of Ronnie Winslow, a 13-year-old boy, who is kicked out of military school for stealing a 5-pound postal note. Once the boy swears his innocence to his father, as portrayed by the incredibly impressive Roger Rees, Arthur Winslow puts all his resources and energies towards proving his son’s innocence and clearing his son’s reputation.
It’s not easy to get the case tried since Admiralty decisions were official acts of the government and the government could not be sued without its own consent. So the case goes on for years, costing the family a large amount of money and pain. Since his tuition is quite costly, Dickie, the older son, has to withdraw from Oxford. However, Dickie himself gives odds against his completion of school. Suffragette sister Catherine’s engagement is threatened by the law case, but she’s more concerned with principle than reputation. Most importantly of all, Arthur’s health is affected. In the first act, he’s got a cane and complains of leg pains, but toward the end he must use a wheel chair.
The wordy, albeit beautifully written and expertly acted play is based on a true story that spans two years, from 1912 to 1914, preceding World War I. Often, characters read newspaper letters to the editor aloud about the Winslow case in which people wonder why Parliament is dealing with such a trivial matter when there are greater international issues to contend with. For Arthur, reputation is not trivial and he continues on.