American Airlines Theatre
227 West 42nd St. between Broadway & Eighth Ave.
Tuesday - Sunday through December 1, $52-$137
The Roundabout production of Terence Rattigan’s 1946 drawing-room drama The Winslow Boy is like a fine episode of Masterpiece Theatre brought to life on the Broadway stage. Originally presented at the Old Vic, this new version of the rarely revived play, which was inspired by a true story and made into films twice (Anthony Asquith, 1948; David Mamet, 1999), follows the trials and tribulations of the Winslow clan just before World War I. Younger son Ronnie (Spencer Davis Milford), his father’s favorite, returns home after having been expelled from a prominent naval school for stealing a five-shilling postal order. The boy professes his innocence to his stern father, Arthur (Roger Rees), and his understanding mother, Grace (Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio), so Arthur sets off on a quest to protect the family name, writing letters, going to the press, and hiring big-time lawyer Sir Robert Morton (Alessandro Nivola). But Arthur’s determination to get justice is soon negatively impacting the family, affecting daughter Catherine’s (Charlotte Parry) engagement to John Watherstone (Chandler Williams) as well as older son Dickie’s (Zachary Booth) future at Oxford. Meanwhile, Ronnie doesn’t really seem to care all that much, oblivious to all that is going on around him.
Written just after World War II about a period right before World War I and dealing with an anxiety-ridden middle class, The Winslow Boy still feels fresh and relevant. In his Broadway bow, director Lindsay Posner, who has previously helmed more than fifty shows in England — including several by Mamet — delicately balances humor with seriousness while guiding the action on Peter McKintosh’s lovely living-room set. Rees (Nicholas Nickleby, Indiscretions) is excellent as a father on a mission, willing to do whatever it takes to prove Ronnie’s innocence, no matter the personal and financial cost. Parry (Look Back in Anger, The Importance of Being Earnest) nearly steals the show as Catherine, a suffragist who always puts the cause ahead of her own desires. The solid cast also features Michael Cumpsty (End of the Rainbow) as family friend and solicitor Desmond Curry, an endlessly dull man who harbors a longtime fondness for Catherine, and Henny Russell (The Other Place, Lombardi) as Violet, the Winslows’ rather chatty maid. From top to bottom, The Winslow Boy is a wonderfully involving trip into another time that is really not that different from our own.