Review: Durham Drama Festival: Winston


Perhaps the most important thing to say about ‘Winston’ is that it is funny. This may seem an obvious point for a comedy, and yet Caitlin McEwan accomplishes what many student writers fail to achieve with her blend of subtle wit with more obvious jokes.

Credit must also go to Izzy Osbourne for her capable direction of the play. Osbourne makes full use of the ‘Black Box’ setting, and the attention to detail on stage went a long way to ensuring the comedy was convincing.

The play does depend on stereotypes and clichés to function, and yet much of what has been ‘done before’ is given a new lease of life in the performance. Elissa Churchill’s subtlety as the over-bearing girlfriend renewed the stereotype, and Sarah Slimani added similar dimension to her performance as the pop-princess Clara as it is demonstrated to the audience that she cannot actually sing. The comic details of warm hummus and a grammatically incorrect banner prevented the ‘End of the World’ setting from going stale.

From a technical perspective, well placed black-outs and musical choices enhanced the action; the sound-effect signifying the impending asteroid collision perhaps needed a little refinement, yet this was simultaneously counted by the effective flickering of lights on stage.

and Dominic McGovern were both entertaining as Tom and Wimp, and managed to convey the more serious aspect of their relationship without dampening the comedy. In particular, McGovern’s attempts at palm reading was charming; largely because his attempt at flirtation was so relatable to the more socially awkward members of the audience.

Maybe not the most original of comedies, Winston demonstrates that sometimes there is no need to push boundaries in theatre. Consistency, clever comedy and exemplary acting is all that is needed for a fully satisfied audience.


Image: Izzy Osbourne.

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