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Published 18 November 2014

What’s it all about?

Fame, notoriety, envy and the price one must pay for public recognition.

Will Trenting is an author who has it all; acclaim, Nobel Prize, big house, family, hidden second life that finds him cavorting with members of society’s underclass, oh, and a knighthood on the way.

As an author, he really should know that frivolous, care-free double lives will always, at some point, give the central character a proper kicking.

Who’s in it?

It would be so easy to take against a wealthy lauded author who enjoyed leaving his plush Regent’s Park house every now and then to slum it with the riff raff, but Alexander Hanson finds the sincerity and truth in the man who is bored by the charade of upper class society and thrilled by the company of those who have fewer airs, graces and sexual qualms.

Abigail Cruttenden brings a sharp wit to his understanding wife, confused as to whether she has been supporting or excusing him for years, while Sam Clemmett’s joy, naivety and blindness to circumstances brings buckets of laughter as son Ian.

Bruce Alexander, though, almost steals the show as the truly dislikeable, envious, self-hating, alcoholic Daker. Even his brandy drinking – tongue poking out like that of a bloated python – is repulsive.

What should I look out for?

James Cotterill’s library set, which comes with a desk and decanter collection to make any early 20th century novelist jealous. Keep an eye out for the clever way it heightens the sense of claustrophobia as Trenting’s situation worsens.

In a nutshell?

Double lives, double drama and a doubly good revival of a lost classic with a modern heart.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@dedwardscasting #Accolade @St_JamesTheatre just wonderful, superb cast, beautifully executed and a heart breaking performance from @sam_clemmett

@Terry_Ea What a show! #accolade at the @St_JamesTheatre truly fantastic play, so unbelievably highly recommended by yours truly. Yeah, I liked it

Will I like it?

If you can get past your own jealousy of the mansion-owning, award-winning author – just me? – Emlyn Williams’ Accolade is an abiding tale with a very contemporary feel. “Dirty knight caught with pants down” could be a headline in today’s papers, yet Accolade was written in 1950.

With drama, scandal, characters so loyal it hurts and more brandy drunk than on Santa’s Christmas Eve house-hopping expedition, it is a yarn Trenting himself would no doubt have been proud to have written.

Accolade plays at the St James Theatre until 13 December. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.


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