William Belchambers on the success of The Winslow Boy
William Belchambers is currently playing John Watherstone in the UK Tour of The Winslow Boy, a play which has received a number of impressive 4-Star reviews. We caught up with Will to find out a little bit more about the show, his role within it, and some of the central themes that have made The Winslow Boy such a success with modern audiences.
Please tell us how your latest role in The Winslow Boy came about…
“It started with the phone call from my agent Niki Winterson, who informed me that there was going to be a revival of The Winslow Boy, by Terrence Rattigan,” says Will. “I had previously worked on a Rattigan play called French Without Tears at the Orange Tree Theatre so I was familiar with and fond of his work. The audition was with Rachel Kavanaugh, the director and casting director Sarah Bird, about two weeks before the rehearsals were due to start. It was very relaxed and friendly and we read through a few of the scenes as well as talking about the play and my character.”
Without giving too much away, can you please tell us a little bit more about the play and your role within it?
“Having been expelled from the Royal Naval College for stealing, young cadet Ronnie Winslow’s entire family are pulled apart by the repercussions of his charge. As they fight to clear his name in the face of a growing national scandal, the family are confronted with political hypocrisies and forced into life-changing decisions.”
“The character that I play is called John Watherstone, a young military officer who is engaged to Catherine Winslow, the sister of Ronnie Winslow. With the case lasting two years, his relationship with Catherine is greatly tested and he has to make a very difficult decision regarding his future.”
What has really impressed you about this piece and what do you think has been driving audiences to see it?
“For a play which was written 72 years ago, it retains a remarkable degree of relevance, and a particular joy for the actors on stage has been the audiences’ responses to lines which feel absolutely of-the-moment. It touches on important issues about civil rights and the liberty of the individual which are just as apposite today as when Rattigan wrote the play.”
“It also makes reference to the suffragette movement, which in the hundredth year of partial women’s suffrage is particularly appropriate. I hope that people who come to see the show will have a sense that it is of our time as well as of its own, and will feel a real connection to a family who find themselves taking on the establishment in all its power.”
A huge congratulations to Will and what has already been a hugely well received show!