Wednesday, 10 December 2014

'Accolade' St James Theatre ****

What happens when one single party appears to cause havoc and dishonour to one explicit individual, who is quite well regarded, and what consequences can occur because of this act? The final production in Stage One’s, ‘One Stage’ season at the St James Theatre of Emlyn Williams’ 1950 play, ‘Accolade’ was one that’s been delightfully revisited, as well as, the performances were faultless throughout. This interpretation of Williams’ text was originally staged at the Finborough Theatre, three years ago, however, the casting has changed with the likes of Alexander Hanson. ‘Accolade’ is set fully in the study of writer, Will Trenting, who has been given the nobility of a knighthood by His Royal Highness, The King for his services to writing. Trenting’s wife, Rona, and their son, Ian are of course overjoyed by Will’s superb news, and are now planning to celebrate this remarkable occasion. However, their plans are upturned during the celebration by the arrival of Will’s friends from his hometown of Rotherhithe, Phyllis and Harold, who seem to startle Rona due to the fact that she does not know of her husband’s sordid past where one event will soon come back to haunt him for the remainder of his existence. Progressively, after Will has collected his knighthood from the king, his luck deteriorates when he is introduced to drunken and disorderly, Daker, who explains that Will had undertaken sexual intercourse with his fifteen, which was an illegal act, even in the 1950’s. Will understood that she was greatly older as she was dressed as a young woman, additionally, her persona and maturity allowed her to seem older than she actually was. Once the story is exposed to the national press, Trenting’s house, in Regents’ Park is surrounded by tonnes of protesting people, who are disgusted by his actions, and with this, Will and his family think that they should vacate the country, and move to the island of Guernsey. Williams’ narrative is exceptionally entrancing as we witness how a repulsive and wicked situation can affect one man’s position of popularity; especially if he has become a Sir. One found the performances by the company of ‘Accolade’ were vastly well portrayed throughout the entire production; in particular their movements which capture the essence of the early 1950’s. Alexander Hanson is magnificent as the central protagonist, Will Trenting; specifically the moment in which he tries to comfort his son, Ian, (Sam Clemmett) when he states that he might have to leave him, and his mother for a while. Abigail Cruttenden is wonderful as Will’s wife, Rona; principally when she’s perturbed by the arrivals of some undesirables from her husbands’ past, furthermore, when her character cries at the news of her husband’s disgraceful past was slightly upsetting to observe. Bruce Alexander is sublime as the alcoholic, Daker; chiefly when he’s frequently manipulating Will into offering him piles of money and of course alcoholic beverages, such a comic moment within the show itself. Blanche McIntrye’s direction is charming here as she has taken a neglected play and given it a new and fresh lease of life, and her work to instil the troublesome circumstances of underage sex has been sensitively approached with grandeur. James Cotterill’s design is agreeable, but one found that there could have been more care and attention as one could see the backstage areas when the doors open during the performance. Overall, one found the experience of ‘Accolade’ to be an pleasurable one, and a well recommended production.  

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