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Neil Seed in association with the Finborough Theatre presents




Writer: Emlyn Williams

Director: Blanche McIntyre

Designer: James Cotterill

Finborough Theatre

1 – 26 February 2011





A review by Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!

It's amazing just how something written over sixty years ago can still be as valid and relevant in the twenty-first century. The nature of celebrity, the media, and their tumultuous relationship was as important then as it is now, so a playwright who tackles that subject (and tackles it well) can be rest assured that their work will stand the test of time. I am, of course, talking about Accolade, the Emlyn Williams play now being staged at the Finborough Theatre. Written by the Welshman back in 1950, this is clearly a play that has stood the test of time.

Allow me to explain how – Accolade follows a few months in the life of Will Trenting, a successful novelist on the verge of receiving a knighthood. Though happily married with a young son, Will leads a second, more sordid, private life, one hidden well away from the public eye. However, when that sordid part of Will's life threatens to reveal itself on the eve of his knighthood, both his personal and professional lives are thrown into disarray.

From the off, the play has the benefit of Williams' writing – the script is witty, intelligent and genuinely emotional at points, all without falling into the trap-door of melodrama. Under the right circumstances, with competent direction and a good cast of actors, this production can't fail. And I'm here to tell you that at the Finborough, under Blanche McIntyre's control, this play is a rousing success. At times funny and despairing at others, the play is always engaging and the audience's attention never wavers. From start to finish, it is a thoroughly entertaining piece of theatre.

If it wasn't for the seating, the theatre could have passed for a real room. The set is beautifully crafted with excellent attention to detail and, before the show has even started, the audience is immersed in this world. And then the play starts, and it only gets better. We believe in these characters and their lives and while credit goes to the writer, it also needs to go to the actors. Each member of the cast is fantastic, to be blunt about it. Each role, big or small, is carried out with great strength and conviction, and it's the performances that keep the audience engaged.

As Will and Rona Trenting, Aden Gillett and Saskia Wickham are brilliant. The two have such fantastic chemistry that as their relationship begins to falter, we are emotionally invested in it. It is the subtle body language and facial expressions between the two that set them apart, and they're a joy to watch. The rest of the cast hold their own, and it would be unfair to highlight one over the other. Each has the opportunity to shine in their respective scenes, and succeed with flying colours. McIntyre's direction is brilliant in all facets of the production. As well as honing the performances, she makes good use of music and lighting. Scene changes are cleverly done and, overall, the technical side of the production compliments the acting perfectly.

This is a show that has very little to fault and deserves the plaudits that have already come its way. Me telling you it's great, however, does not do it justice – it needs to be seen and should be seen. Kudos need to go to everyone involved in bringing this production to the high quality that it has achieved, and kudos to Finborough Theatre for staging another winner.



Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 7.30pm.
Saturday matinees at 3.00pm (from 12 February 2011). Sunday matinees at 3.00pm.
Prices for Weeks One and Two (1-13 February 2011) – Tickets £15, £11 concessions, except Tuesday Evenings £11 all seats, and Saturday evenings £15 all seats.
Prices for Weeks Three and Four (15-26 February 2011) – Tickets £18, £15 concessions, except Tuesday Evenings £15 all seats, and Saturday evenings £18 all seats.
Finborough Theatre
118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED
Box Office: 0844 847 1652




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