Fighting Talk: Tessa Peake-Jones and Aden Gillett on The Winslow Boy
As The Winslow Boy opens this week, we caught up with Tessa Peake-Jones and Aden Gillett, aka the Winslow parents who fight to clear the name of their son Ronnie, a naval cadet accused of stealing.
For Tessa, known to TV audiences as Mrs Maguire in Grantchester and Raquel in Only Fools and Horses, The Winslow Boy marks a welcome return to The REP, having previously appeared in Romeo and Juliet.
“It's what I would call a heroic play,” says Tessa, “It's moral, decent and good. It's all the things I would relate to, as a family member and a mum myself.”
Tessa plays Grace Winslow, the mother who must watch as her family is torn apart in the fight to clear their son's name.
“The fact that this family said we are going to take this case to the very last, to lose every penny, to prove as a principle that this boy has not been served well by the system – you want to cheer it. There are strains within the family, of course. Grace is a wife and mother; she asks whether it is all worth it or should they just keep quiet and trust that the scandal will be forgotten.
“Rattigan is so clever in the way he builds up the suspense. Hopefully the audience will go through the play wondering – did he do it, didn't he? Is he going to get off, isn't he? Is the family going to be destroyed?”
The Winslow Boy, which is based on a true story from the Edwardian era, has a lasting impact and endurance. Aden Gillett, who plays Arthur Winslow, the father determined to get justice for his son, was previously involved in the film version.
“This is the second time I've been involved with The Winslow Boy. 20 years ago, I was in the David Mamet film of it,” says Aden.
“It's a masterpiece. A belter. And now, I'm playing the old boy, Arthur Winslow: the dad, who takes on the might of the British Establishment, in order to clear his son's name.
“It'll be interesting being that bloodyminded, that reckless, that noble even. This feels like a particularly good time in history to enjoy the victory of the little man over his own, cold, brutally indifferent, government. It doesn't all end happily. It's based on a true story after all. But you will, hopefully, have your faith in humanity restored, just a smidgen. And that seems a thoroughly worthwhile goal.”
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