Gracing the Old Vic’s stage as mother Grace Winslow in the latest recreation of Terrence Rattagan’s The Winslow Boy, Deborah Findlay has been overwhelmed by the reaction so far. “We’ve had this fantastic response, which makes it a real thrill to do,” she says. “The first preview is always a shock. It’s where you really learn what’s funny and where the tension in. It’s such a brilliant story with this huge climax and fortunately it goes very quickly for such a long play,” she laughs.
Following the trials and tribulations of patriarch Arthur Winslow and his family as they set out to prove the innocence of the family’s youngest son after he is accused of theft, the 1946 play possesses a timelessness that still strikes a chord with people today, Deborah says.
“It’s these court cases that show the little family battling the big institution that are always fascinating and always relevant,” she said. “The whole point is actually not whether he did or didn’t steal, it’s the fact that we should be allowed to question that, and as the play says, let right be done.” Although it’s a drama centred around a court case, the story never physically goes outside the family drawing room. “It’s really about the impact this case has on the family. I think we’ve managed to portray a very happy family to begin with and you see it taking a great toll; everyone is quite damaged by the end regardless of the outcome.”
The Olivier award winning actress is sick with a cold when we speak, something that can’t be ideal when having to perform a very text-heavy play night after night. “Actually you often find if you’re sick when you go on stage it just disappears; I think it’s the adrenaline,” she muses.
In the same way she also doesn’t tire of performing the same show over and over. “Every performance is different, people bring in a different energy, the audience changes and you pick up these slight nuances and new layers everytime you come back to it,” she explains.
The Winslow Boy is showing at the Old Vic, 103 The Cut London SE1 8NB, until May 25. On April 22 there will be a free post-show Q&A with members of the company: tickets must be booked in advance. Phone: 020 7928 2651. http://www.oldvictheatre.com