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The Winslow Bow at The Old Vic

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by Ellie Ross (subscribe)
Freelance travel writer and Policy Adviser for the UK government living in Brixton. View my blog for ethical and budget travel inspiration
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A humorous take on a man's struggle to clear his son's name
Drifting past the Old Vic at 7pm on a Saturday evening was putting temptation in our path to say the least.

I was attracted by the glare of white light-bulbs and the warmth emanating from the foyer. On a whim, we poked our heads into the Box Office and were rewarded with two tickets to go and see the Winslow Boy at 12 each. This was because we were under 25: obviously the Old Vic is sold on the idea that under 25s are uncultured youths and need enticing to see plays. Great news for young adults in the capital! (For information the National Theatre and Dolmar have similar offers).

The Winslow Boy by Terence Rattigan is a tale of a father trying to clear his boys name set in the run up to the First World War. It is a parlour-room play, but that doesn't stop it from being witty, enticing, loving and incredibly engaging. As ever, the Old Vic had incredible scenery. It was simple, but with changing lighting and wonderful sound effects: the sounds of the reporters babble outside and the flashes of their cameras were convincing and well considered.

The cast embraced the script wonderfully: there were plenty of awkward silences which added to the believability of the changing social structure of an Edwardian house with Victoriana values. Henry Goodman is fantastic as the family patriarch fighting to clear his son's name: becoming gradually more crippled with arthritis as the timeline of the case advances it is a heart-warming two fingers up to the crippled bureaucratic judicial and parliamentary system. Worryingly, it's as relevant today as it was when it was first performed in 1947.

Kate, the suffragette daughter is wonderfully feisty, if a little unconvincingly outspoken. Whereas Dicky, the older son is perfect as a Bertie Wooster-esque Oxford layabout, who does nothing except practice dance steps, try to woo a richer girl called Edwina and pretend to study hard to pacify his father.

It is a sublime interpretation of one of Rattigan's funniest and most touching plays. The only exception to this is the 'poorly trained' parlour maid Violet, whose cockney accent is unbelievable and a little bit too 'RADA' to be tolerable for the entirety of the play. Advice to the cast: get somebody with more accent skills to play the 'poor person' or suggest that she drops the cockney. It grates.
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Why? Excellent cast, wonderful scenery and a night of pure enjoyment
When: Evenings and occasional matinees
Phone: 0844 871 7628
Where: The Old Vic, The Cut, London
Cost: 12-48
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