Friday, October 25, 2013

Broadway Theater Review: The Winslow Boy

Taut Production Explores the Knots in Family Ties
By Lauren Yarger
Just how far will a parent go to protect his or her child? In the case of  Broadway's The Winslow Boy, the answer is all the way -- and maybe too far -- both at the same time.

The Old Vic's production of Terence Rattigan's play is getting a stellar staging by Roundabout Theatre Company, under the careful direction of Lindsay Posner. Roger Rees and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio head the cast as the parents, Arthur and Grace Winslow who enjoy a peaceful life in pre-World War I Kensington, England.

Their daughter, Catherine (Charlotte Parry), is newly engaged to John Watherstone (Chandler Williams), a respectable military chap from an upstanding family who doesn't exactly approve of Cate who shows much more emotion about her cause of women's suffrage than she does outward affection for John. Arthur's gift of a settlement on Cate is welcome, since the couple will have to live on John's meager Army salary and an allowance he receives form his father.

Dickie (Zachary Bolt) gets by at Oxford, but can't compete with the perfection -- at least that's how Dickie thinks everyone sees him -- of younger brother Ronnie (Spencer David Milford), who is studying at Arthur's alma mater, the Royal Naval College at Osborne.

The biggest threats to their peaceful existence come from their overly familiar parlor maid, Violet (Henny Russell) and the awkward position Cate's engagement has put the family solicitor, Desmond Curry (Michael Cumpsty) in since he has been in love with her for years. That's until one Sunday morning in July when Ronnie comes slinking home, expelled form school after being accused of forging a signature on a postal note and stealing 5 shillings.

Arthur makes it his goal in life to clear the boy. He re-appropriates funds allocated for Cate's settlement and Dickie's schooling to hire the best attorney in England: Sir Robert Morton (a very impressive Alessandro Nivola to take the case. Dickie is forced to accept a position at his father bank and Cate's wedding plans might be scrapped as John is influenced by the loss of his allowance and in the face of the growing attraction between Cate and Morton. Initially in support of her husband's efforts to defend their son's name, Grace comes to wonder whether the case known as "The Winslow Boy," was worth the sacrifices, especially in light of Ronnie's own lack of concern about it.

The acting and directing here are superb making the two-hour-45-minute run time breeze by. The sets and costumes (designed by Peter McNish) are nice to look at too.

The Winslow Boy runs through Dec. 1 at American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd St., NYC. Tickets: http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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