‘The Winslow Boy’: Theater review

Charlotte Parry and Michael Cumpsty in Terence Rattigan’s “The Winslow Boy”

©2013 Joan Marcus

Charlotte Parry and Michael Cumpsty in Terence Rattigan’s “The Winslow Boy”

Let right be done!

In “The Winslow Boy,” Terence Rattigan’s compelling 1946 drama about family and justice, that declaration echoes loudly.

How great it is that the Roundabout revival — Broadway’s one and only — gets things so right.

Credit director Lindsay Posner, who staged the play at London’s Old Vic and recast it for New York. Scrupulously acted and handsomely designed, the show vibrates with humor and genuine emotion.

That “Winslow” is so engaging is all the more surprising and heartening considering the Roundabout’s deadly 2011 redo of Rattigan’s lesser work, “Man and Boy.”

Same company, same stage — but what a difference a play makes.

Inspired by a petty crime and ensuing legal battle that improbably led to London’s High Court and became front-page news, the drawing-room drama covers two years, starting in 1912.

The tidy Winslow home in Kensington is turned upside down when 13-year-old Ronnie (Spencer Davis Milford) is expelled from the Royal Naval College. The reason: He’s stolen a five-shilling postal order.

His father, Arthur Winslow (Roger Rees), believes his son is innocent. He launches an exhaustive legal battle to see his son’s name — and his own — cleared.

The saga consumes Arthur’s health along with his finances and family. Wife Grace (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) watches helplessly as Arthur withers and the case takes a toll on other children — Dickie (Zachary Booth), an Oxford scholar, and Catherine (Charlotte Parry), a suffragette with backbone, brains and a fickle fiancé, John Watherstone (Chandler Williams).

Family solicitor Desmond Curry (an endearing Michael Cumpsty), whose feelings for Catherine are an open secret, connects the Winslows with power barrister Robert Morton (Alessandro Nivola), who takes the case. Does he do it for prestige? Self-promotion? Something deeper? All is revealed.

In a top-flight company, Parry rises especially high. A stage pro who never takes a false step, she’s at her sure-footed finest here. Also outstanding is Nivola, who adds heat and high stakes to the mix.

Peter McKintosh’s period-soaked set and costumes, David Lander’s moody lighting and Drew Levy’s clear-as-a-bell sound all sweeten the pot.

There’s no getting around the fact that the nearly three-hour “The Winslow Boy” is dense with conversation and light on action. Sure, it’s all talk. But you’ll be all ears.


Music & Arts – NY Daily News

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