Terence Rattigan has very quickly become one of my favourite playwrights, his dialogue is so intelligent, witty and meaty, his characterisation so dynamic, complex and real and the storytelling so beautifully constructed.
Along with 'The Browning Version' and 'Separate Tables', 'The Winslow Boy' is an example of Rattigan at his best. This is a fabulous adaptation of the play. It is very deliberately paced, but suitably intimate and because the dialogue and acting is so good it still is interesting, though occasionally it falls into stodginess.
Some may wonder about there only being one set, but that's what it's meant to be like. The set is very beautifully furnished and entrances and exits consummately staged, even when very confined, while the costumes are true to period and very opulent. The photography is also very nicely done, if with a somewhat 1970s TV look.
Where this adaptation of 'The Winslow Boy' also excels is in the dynamic between the characters (like genuine sympathy and admiration for Arthur, Morton by Catherine's own words being a cold fish that one admires later on, amusement and then sympathy for Catherine and eventually intense dislike for John, also felt sorry for Desmond and never doubted Ronnie's innocence) and the writing, which provokes thought constantly, has tension (like in Morton's interrogation of Ronnie) and also some funny humour (especially with Morton and Catherine's "he's having his leg rubbed).
'The Winslow Boy's' storytelling gripped me throughout, and made me relate to the characters' bid for innocence and justice, dealt with intelligence and real meat. The acting is excellent, especially a sympathetic and moving performance from Eric Porter as Arthur and an unforgettable Alan Badel, suitably low-key and cold.
Michelle Dotrice is a very charming and witty Catherine, and Jonathan Scott Taylor's Ronnie is very appealing and easy to relate to. The John of David Robb is just a touch dull however at first, though he does convince in making one dislike, even detest, the character in his treatment of Catherine. Ann Beach is a hoot as Violet, Diana Fairfax sympathetic as Grace and Jonathan Adams's Desmond allows one to feel sorry for him.
All in all, beautifully acted and just fabulous on the whole. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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