Accolade Review

Royale Theatre, Windsor – until 15 June 2024

Reviewed by Joanna Huggett


We had the absolute pleasure of watching ‘Accolade’ at the Theatre Royale Windsor, written by Emlyn Williams almost 75 years ago, a play about a celebrated writer leading a Jekyll and Hyde lifestyle and a scandalous revelation coming to light on the eve of his knighthood.

The whole play takes place within the living room of an affluent Regents Park address. In that room there is a writing desk central to the room, a vast array of books on bookshelves, a comfy sofa, an often visited closet and patio doors to the garden and the outside world – every aspect of the story represented in physical form.

Will Trenting (played by Ayden Callaghan) a celebrated writer, spends most days sat at the writing desk working on his next novel. He lives with his wife Rona (Honeysuckle Weeks), his young son Ian (Louis Holland) and is assisted by his man servant Albert (Jamie Hogarth) and the maid Gladys (played by Kayleigh Cooper). Initially the story seems to be about Will’s knighthood announced in the new year’s honours list and Rona’s achievement of becoming a ‘Lady’ in which she celebrates with her best friend Marian (played by Sara Crowe). However, the later arrival of Will’s friends Harold (Gavin Fowler) and Phyllis (Sarah Twomey) reveals a promiscuous darker side of Will’s character, one in which Rona is fully aware of and indeed complicit.

Will’s book publisher Thane (David Phelan), blissfully unaware of this other side of Will, brings news of a police investigation into these goings on, and here the story unravels the delicate balance between public and private lives, truth and deception, and ultimately about public opinion towards those enjoying a better standing in life. The arrival at the front door of Mr Dakar, (played by Narinder Samra), brings new perspectives on the events of one of Will’s recent parties, but Mr Dakar’s own objectives and his role in all of this remain unclear, until we learn the situation is so much worse than we had originally thought.

The original play written in 1950 draws many parallels from Emlyn William’s own life. A writer who was a secret bi-sexual, for which his wife and children had full knowledge. In the play, Will Trenting writes novels around characters drawn from his own promiscuous experiences, and again his wife is also fully aware. But also, there are so many parallels with the scandals and secrets of the rich and famous in today’s modern life.

The story remains so relevant even after nearly 75 years, the acting is just sublime and the set design so cleverly and subconsciously nods to aspects of the story, up to and including closing the pages of the book of Will’s own story.

This is a must-see play, it closes in Windsor on June 15th, do not miss it.