Theatre Royal Windsor

ACCOLADE at the Theatre Royal Windsor


“a grand revival that entertains and chills in equal measure”

“We all have one thing we’re ashamed of. Even the judge has, who’ll be peering at you over his glasses, making you feel like dirt. His secret may be the nastiest of the lot. Only you have committed the sin of being found out…”

The Theatre Royal has taken a bold decision with this revival of Emlyn Williams’ 1950 drama about a Nobel prize winning author with an addiction to sleazy sex. A knighthood from the king is about to propel William Trenting into the very heart of the establishment. But as his acquiescent wife knows, down at the Blue Lion in Rotherhithe he’s plain Bill Trent ‘the tramp’ who has a penchant for regular orgies.

The set is an immaculately brown period re-creation by Julie Godfrey who also designed the costumes. But how relevant to today’s audience is the moral anguish of 75 years ago? The answer is that accents and social mores may change but human fallibility does not. ‘Accolade’ sharply echoes recent sexual scandals involving any number of contemporary high profile individuals.

And although the plot relates the story of a man accused of sex with an underage girl, there are LGBT undercurrents. Emlyn Williams was bisexual throughout his adult life and took the lead at the show’s first production.



Director Sean Mathias has taken some imaginative decisions in both casting and design. Ayden Callaghan (Emmerdale and Hollyoaks) opens the show encased in something like a giant test tube which seems to symbolise the punishing glare of public scrutiny to which his character is about to be exposed. In this central role, his low-key performance was uneasily at odds with the rest of the cast. His Trenting does not belong in this sophisticated middle class world. But this is a provocative play of uneasy opposites. Public and private lives. Adults and minors. The establishment and the rest of us. In a telling line, Trenting admits that he is ‘growing up in front of my own son’.

Honeysuckle Weeks sparkles as Trenting’s compliantly loving wife Rona. As Trenting’s son, Louis Holland gives an engaging performance, literally drawing a veil across the scene in what seems to be a vain attempt to hide his family’s private drama from our gaze. Holland plays a bookish and privately educated 14 year old, in a pointed parallel to the child victim of Trenting’s philandering.

The sound design by David Gregory was particularly effective. Jamie Hogarth gives an intriguing performance as Albert, Trenting’s secretary with a dodgy past the author managed to pick up in a pub. Narinder Samra is terrific as Trenting’s insinuating blackmailer. Williams’ writing is peppered with witticisms, but very much of its time. Sara Twomey and Gavin Fowler give colourful performances as the cheery proprietors of the Blue Lion pub, who slip gleefully into Trenting’s posh home life.

‘Accolade’ is a grand revival that entertains and chills in equal measure.


ACCOLADE at the Theatre Royal Windsor as part of UK Tour

Reviewed on 6th June 2024

by David Woodward

Photography by Jack Merriman





Previously reviewed at this venue:

OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR | ★★★★ | April 2024
CLOSURE | ★★★★ | February 2024
THE GREAT GATSBY | ★★★ | February 2024
ALONE TOGETHER | ★★★★ | August 2023
BLOOD BROTHERS | ★★★★★ | January 2022
THE CHERRY ORCHARD | ★★★★ | October 2021



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