Theater review: 'The Winslow Boy' -- 2 stars
"Thanks, but no thanks" has become the new mindset when approaching revivals of antiquated, rarely seen dramas at the Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre.
While no one wants only the tried-and-true classics to be produced, there are countless forgotten plays that simply aren't compelling, relevant or interesting enough to sustain a full-scale Broadway revival.
For instance, Clifford Odets' "The Big Knife" was produced last spring to even bigger yawns. And now comes Terence Rattigan's slow-paced family drama "The Winslow Boy," which has not been seen on Broadway since 1947.
Rattigan is a British playwright worthy of reconsideration, especially since his once-acclaimed, bourgeois-centered dramas were unfairly condemned following the arrival of the post-World War II "Angry Young Man" writers, who strove for rough, kitchen-sink realism.
"The Winslow Boy" begins with a mild-mannered young teen being wrongly accused of petty theft at his naval school.
For the sake of family honor, his father spares no expense to clear the boy's name, even hiring a smart, self-loving attorney to take up the cause and argue it in front of the government.
All the while, the case drains the family's money and leads to the deterioration of the father's health.
One wonders if Lindsay Posner's revival, which was originally done at London's Old Vic, fared better with an English cast in front of an English audience. Here, it comes off as stale and stiff drawing-room fare that only springs to life whenever Roger Rees, who plays the father, seizes the stage in a fit of passion.
Later this season, Roundabout will produce Sophie Treadwell's 1928 expressionist drama "Machinal," a brilliant, daring, female-centered work that is a rarity. That promises to be far more exciting than "The Winslow Boy."
"The Winslow Boy" plays at the American Airlines Theatre through Dec. 1. 227 W. 42nd St., 212-719-1300, roundabouttheatre.org.