John Gardiner, in the role of Austin, is the personification of uptight, pushing his rigidity to a point where the honesty of his acting suffers. He is so unappealing in his weakness and fear that the romantic suspense of the play is diminished. You don't want Austin to get the girl, you just want him to hide himself in the family library until he withers away.
In the corny roles of the men and women, Pat Nesbit and John FitzGibbon do their best, but the script confines them to playing such ridiculous characters that they rarely have a chance to shine. Instead they are forced to mug and overact by the very dictates of the script. Only when Nesbit plays Sally, the hostess of the party, and FitzGibbon plays Jimmy, fighting his losing battle against nicotine, do they emote any true vulnerability and reality. Of the cast, the best-written role and best acting job is done by Kathleen Huber as Ruth, in a no-nonsense, immensely likable portrayal of a woman who has suffered but still stokes the fires of life.
Throughout the work, you can acutely sense Gurney's melancholy mood, his own confusion about life as he enters his sixties. Meandering thoughts, regrets, and dim observations characterize this play, ultimately undermining it with a ponderous, depressing tone. It is ironic that when we finally achieve the wisdom of age, the sure-footed knowledge we possessed in youth seems to fade away. This fate can lead some writers to create works that are ambitious in a thoughtful sort of way, but sometimes they smell too much of the grave.