Accolade by Emlyn Williams
Finborough Theatre, London SW10
Normally TLT and her automotive sidekick would hold fire on publishing an opinion of a first preview. No qualms though about breaking the usual code to praise this beautifully-judged production of Emlyn Williams’s 1950 drama directed by Blanche McIntyre whose Moliere we previously enjoyed. There is a lot made of the play as a disguised gay text but one certainly doesn’t need to know this to relish a well-crafted, finely acted, directed and ultimately very moving piece. Will Trenting (Aden Gillett), acclaimed yet skating-on-thin-ice novelist, is on the brink of becoming even more a stalwart of the establishment after accepting a knighthood. However his double life, the security of which he seems to have taken for granted, suddenly threatens to send him, his wife Rona (Saskia Wickham) and son Ian (Patrick Osbourne) into the clutches of a blackmailer and scandalous freefall. TLT would first of all like to make special mention of the exceptional set design by James Cotterill and lighting of Neill Brinkworth, both of which perform a small miracle on The Finborough’s bijou space creating the spacious sitting room and library of the Trenting’s London home. This is an intricately-woven play matched by cleverly stylised, visceral acting (as well as costumes) making every twist and turn hit target. Alan Francis as Albert the butler with undercover talents. Patrick Brennan as Trenting’s publisher. Emma Jerrold as loyal Marian. Simon Darwen and Olivia Darnley as the disreputable couple from Trenting’s alter ego life. And the wonderfully seedy Graham Seed (couldn't resist that adjective!) as Daker who threatens all their existence. All spot-on performances in one of those very English plays which yet can cross frontiers. A green light for a class act from all concerned.
UPDATE Sunday February 6 2011: Tickets are now (deservedly) sold out. TLT regulars may have noticed some strange shenanigans going on with 'first preview' changing to 'second' and now reverting to 'first'. TLT and the engine beneath her wings were in fact at the second preview but thought it was the first. Having learnt we are more read than we - er - um - also thought and that a tweet link to our page mentioned it as a first preview review, we've now changed it back to the original with this update. Bet the Guardian critic never had this trouble ;)