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New Era - The Winslow Boy

16th to 18th and 21st to 25th March 2006.

Here is the NWN review.

Caught in the act

Young actor at ease with demanding role of The Winslow Boy

New Era Players: The Winslow Boy, at New Era Theatre, Wash Common from Thursday, March 16 to Saturday March 18 and Tuesday March 21 to Saturday March 25

The intimate atmosphere of the New Era Theatre in Wash Common was an excellent venue for this classic play, which tells the story of a family's fight to clear the name of the fourteen year old boy falsely accused of stealing a five-shilling postal order.

Set in the years 1912-1914, the play reflects the concerns and politics of the tune including the Suffragette movement and the looming Great War. The drawing-room set, the costumes and the clipped accents of the middle-class household all helped to convince the audience that we had been transported back 90 years.

On the night of this review Ronan Hatfull played the demanding part of the boy and seemed very much at ease with the adult members of the company. In the second half of the run, the part was played by Allie Greenwood. Hatfull had to show a range of emotions, particular at the opening of the play when he was petrified at the reception he would get from his dominating father (sternly played by David Zeke) and at the end of Act 1 when he was cross-examined by the formidable QC, Sir Robert Morton, played by Stephen Bennett with icy and languid superiority. Marie Jacobs played the mother, Grace Winslow, with a combination of maternal love and strength and a selection of wonderful costumes. The audience seemed particularly attentive whenever she was on stage.

The play presents the different relationships in the family and beyond as they are affected by the court case. We see the daughter Catherine (Jacqueline Chester) torn between her devotion to her father and her rather awkward engagement to John Watherstone (Mark Cavesh). She is also subjected to a less-than-overwhelming proposal by the rather dull Desmond (David Tute).

Marian Hatfull was Violet, the scatty and simpering maid, who introduced a note of humour into what is otherwise a serious and thought-provoking play.

The work is well written and includes some excellent lines and set pieces which held the attention and sympathy of the audience. The cast paid the play the compliment of taking the issues seriously and the production was thus a great success.