Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Homely Courtroom drama

The Winslow Boy

Highbury Theatre Centre


THE autumn season at Highbury opened with the very powerful but understated The Winslow Boy by Terrence Rattigan.

Set in the household of a middle class English family in 1911, it tells the story of a young 13 year old boy Ronnie Winslow who is accused of a minor theft and so dismissed from a navel college.

He protests his innocence and his father starts a campaign to clear his name that has deep implications to his family’s happiness and one that reaches public debate in parliament, a change in law and becomes a national celebration of justice.

Rattigan based his play on a real life event of the time and as a play it is masterful exercise in producing what effectively becomes a courtroom drama all set inside one room of the Winslow family home.

Highbury have done a fine job of casting here creating a very authentic family unit and with excellent direction by Alison Cahill the story remains interesting throughout its long 2 hour 10 minutes running time and that alone is something of an achievement.

The head of the household Arthur Winslow is played by Robert Alexander who delivers an excellent, quietly assured performance of a man faced with the challenge of upholding the Winslow name and the greater needs of his family.


The daughter Catherine played by effectively Emma Woodcock is perhaps the first independent woman character in any play of its time as she is an outspoken supporter of women's suffrage, and eventually becomes the energy behind her father’s cause. She never flinches when her engagement to Captain John Watherstone played by Mark Mulkeen is broken by the public scandal of her younger brother’s trial.

The older son Dickie is played by Jack Hobbis a regular face now at Highbury and his performance never fails to give an air of confident security to scenes when things start to waver a little.

The task of playing Ronnie, the victim of the injustice, fell to newcomer Christian Blunden and whilst he is the central part of the play, Rattigan keeps his part cleverly as a supporting role.

Another pair of newcomers was Sean Mulkeen , as the family friend and solicitor Desmond Curry, and reporter Miss Barnes played by Suzanne Brimley who, in contrast to the woman’s movement of time, is made out to be more interested in the Winslow  curtains than the legal case.

Sandra Haynes played Violet the doting housemaid and finally Robert Hicks handled the role of the famous Barrister Sir Robert Morton.  After what was a moderately quiet start to the play it fell to Mr Hicks to wake very one up with a blistering cross examination of the Winslow boy in the family home. From then on the play begins to grow in its interest as the course is set to either public humiliation or triumph

With a very nice set by Malcombe Robertshaw the Highbury team have kicked the season off with and excellent production that keeps you engaged throughout in this tale of the ordinary man versus the might of the establishment.  To 20-09-14

Jeff Grant


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