Home » Reviews » Drama » Quaint Honour, Finborough Theatre – Review
Credit: Tristan Bell
Credit: Tristan Bell

Quaint Honour, Finborough Theatre – Review

Pros: Extraordinary performances coupled with expert direction and design mean that Quaint Honour is undoubtedly a show worth seeing.

Cons: Some scenes are hampered by the sheer volume of dialogue written within them.

Pros: Extraordinary performances coupled with expert direction and design mean that Quaint Honour is undoubtedly a show worth seeing. Cons: Some scenes are hampered by the sheer volume of dialogue written within them. The dying strains of I Vow to Thee, My Country play as the audience take their seats for this revival of Roger Gellert’s Quaint Honour, a play first (and last) seen almost 60 years ago. The music feels apt, given the play’s setting; a classic English boarding school during the 1950s. However, this play is anything but traditional – especially in any public school sense of…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, this is a nuanced and moving revival of a play last seen almost 60 years ago.

User Rating: 4.16 ( 7 votes)

The dying strains of I Vow to Thee, My Country play as the audience take their seats for this revival of Roger Gellert’s Quaint Honour, a play first (and last) seen almost 60 years ago. The music feels apt, given the play’s setting; a classic English boarding school during the 1950s. However, this play is anything but traditional – especially in any public school sense of the word. Gellert’s only play examines homosexual relationships at a time when they were still illegal, in a setting where they were relatively commonplace, and this timely revival coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which partly decriminalised homosexual acts in the UK.

Following a frank conversation with his housemaster, the Head of House, Park (Oliver Gulley), is ‘on a warpath’, determined to discover if there is truth to the rumours of illicit sexual relationships between boys within the house. Described in the text as ‘a worried muscular Christian’, the practically puritanical Park feels it is a moral duty for him to root out and prevent such relationships (though we later discover that he also holds another, less religious, motivation), and enlists the help of Tully, a House Prefect. Tully, though, is himself having a relationship with one of the younger boys (Turner) and attempting to seduce another (Hamilton).

Despite the six decades which have elapsed since the play’s premiere, Quaint Honour has lost little of its potency. Naturally there are some signs of ageing; its proximity to the Second World War means this subject dominates some scenes, while some of the dialogue is more substantive than what audiences might be used to from more recent writing. That being said, the relationships at its heart are as moving as ever, and fantastically portrayed here by an absolutely stellar cast. Simon Butteriss excels as the humane and understanding housemaster Mr Hallowes, while the four younger members of the cast surely all have glittering careers ahead of them. Each performance is exceptional.

The cast’s nuanced performances match the detail of the set, which perfectly evoke a sense of period and place, from the cricket pads in the corner to Tully’s battered old trunk. Throughout the production, the claustrophobia of a boys’ boarding house – and the lack of privacy they enjoy – is brilliantly realised. The intimate auditorium at the Finborough, meanwhile, casts the audience as voyeurs.

This is a superb revival of a play which, despite its age and the changes in attitude since its first staging in 1958, remains a seriously moving piece.

Author: Roger Gellert
Director: Christian Durham
Producer: Giles Chiplin
Booking Until: 21 November 2017
Box Office: 0844 847 1652
Booking Link: http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2017/quaint-honour.php

About Hugo Nicholson

Hugo Nicholson
Hugo is an actor, producer and competitive stone skimmer from County Durham. A highlight of his career post-university was working as a scarer in the basement Madame Tussauds, where his ghoulishness was such that he was more than once struck hard in the face by tourists, and forced to call an emergency stop. He now spends his time above ground, watching theatre and often writing about it.