Probably the theatrical highlight of this Christmas season, Accolade is worth seeing.
Accolade is about promiscuous sex and scandal, and just a little bit about writing. Director Blanche McIntyre first revived the 1950 play at Finborough Theatre in 2011. Now, Emlyn Williams’ acclaimed work has a much larger audience at St. James, just to remind its public the tough truth that if you are a citizen of the society you have to conform, otherwise be exposed.
Will Trenting is a Nobel Laureate in literature who is celebrated for accurately depicting society’s dubious lives. The writer is even honoured with knighthood for those achievements. It is impossible though to place literary work without influence. Not a hypocrite, Will Trenting leads a double life, finding his muses in brothels and exciting his appetite with orgies. His lively wife Rona is aware of those bohemian parties that occur in Will’s favourite pub the Blue Lion. She supports her husband and his existential nightlife, and is still very much in love with him.
But even Rona doesn’t realise how much Will’s seedy side could outrage London until a seemingly dodgy drunk blackmails the Trenting family with pornographic photographs taken at the Blue Lion. The unknown man reveals himself as the father of an underaged schoolgirl that the novelist had sex with. “Over a night I have turned a child of 14 into a whore” – Will awakes with horror; a soft-porn shady mistake both the father and the press are ready to take full advantage of.
Ahead of its time, Emlyn Williams’ play is in a powerful unison with current privacy issues and the News of the World debacle, but it depicts the more human side of it. This engaging production does not feel as perilous as it did in the 1950s. Nevertheless, Accolade deserves a loud applause for the mesmerising cast performances, boldness and brilliant depiction of human weaknesses.
Accolade has a 5 weeks run until the 15th of December. For more information visit the website of St. James Theatre.
Photo Credits: Bill Knight