Accolade - 17 November 2014 Review

Sex, scandal and blackmail. Three essential ingredients for a political production.

Author Will Trenting (Alexander Hanson) has just been honoured with a knighthood, an accolade he could well do without, as the press and public suddenly start to scrutinise him and threaten to expose his double life. Torn between losing his family and doing the right thing, Will has to decide between his two lives and two reputations.

In this revival of Emlyn Williams' 1950 play, Director Blanche McIntyre is tackling subjects not uncommon in today's society while Alexander Hanson once again takes on the role of a prominent figure, disgraced when his double life is exposed.

Hanson is perfectly cast as Will Trenting, the schoolboy-like hedonist with no sense of responsibility while Abigail Cruttenden shines as his strangely tolerant wife Rona. Sam Clemmett (Ian Trenting) doesn't initially make much of an impression, but he comes into his own during Act II with a moving display of emotion as he is told of his father's situation.

Jay Taylor and Olivia Darnley are wickedly amusing as Will's friends from his shady past - think Bernard Bresslaw and Barbara Windsor in the Carry On era - and Daniel Crossley is delightful as Will's Butler/Secretary/Valet Albert.

Staging is simple, yet intimate, but what is perhaps most noticeable about this production is the attention to detail. Sound effects, newspapers and costumes are fantastic and really add to the play's setting.

Acting is strong and the writing is, at times, gripping. Although Act I takes too long to set the scene and introduce the characters, the second act brings the play to a sharp conclusion that leaves the audience surprised by how much they enjoyed something they hadn't thought particularly interesting.

Although perhaps a little dated in places, the underlying message of Accolade is no less relevant today than it was in 1950 when Emlyn Williams himself took on the role of Will Trenting.

Funny, shocking and even poignant, this production is an intelligent piece that really makes you think.

Accolade Review St James Theatre London

This review was written by guest author, Michaela Clement-Hayes
17 November 2014, St James Theatre