Sixties tale from a quality team
FOR the first of three plays in their American season the Ustinov Studio chose to give this Richard Greenberg's play of love and betrayal its UK premiere. Set in the holiday area of the Catskill Mountains during a summer in the 1960s it tells the story of Nick Lockridge, a handsome young man whose love for the delicate Lili Adler, the lonely daughter of wealthy German-Jewish refugees, is destroyed by her possessive mother.
At least on the surface that is the storyline, but although Eva, the mother, is a smiling Machiavellian Iago of a woman is there that much malice in her manipulations? She certainly sets out to separate the young couple, but in view of the many lies Nick has told, and things left out from his past, like a homosexual relationship with Gill, which comes back to haunt him, is she letting her natural possessiveness dominate her feelings? Or is Lili's true happiness her major aim?
Under David Grindley's beautifully balanced direction the play develops like a Chekov tragi-comedy. He gives Diana Quick rein to take advantage of the classic humour connected to a mid twentieth century New York Jewish widow, and with great skills she never overplays her hand.
Full of finely observed suppressed anxiety Emily Taaffe is beautifully vulnerable as the daughter Lili, so desperate for personal love that she will forgive Luke Allen-Gale's charming Nick virtually anything if he will give her that love.
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Dona Croll's nicely underplayed put-upon companion, and Mark Edel-Hunt's selfishly intense Gill complete a tightly knit quality team of actors.