Celia has fled to the country after the murder of her husband and there on a peach farm is raising her teenage daughter with fearful protectiveness. But like the peaches Zo?s now ripe for new experiences.
Her passport to love and dangerous adventure comes in the form of a fruit-picker, a warm-hearted if erratic teenager called Kieran.
Debra Oswald has always written well for young people, dramatic plays about vulnerable people whom we are drawn to care for.
Her ability in The Peach Season to capture the language, the teenage enthusiasms and dark doubts of the young lovers is matched by the performances here by Maeve Dermody and Scott Timmons.
Oswald makes dumb teenagers interesting, and newcomer Timmons is especially fine as the gawky charmer Kieran.
Anne Looby is in danger of striking the same one note but is convincing as the terrified mother trying to protect (or is it imprison?) her daughter from him, and from everything else.
In the 70s we used to sit around and chant Kahlil Gibran’s poetry about allowing our children (and our lovers) the freedom to fly away. This play has much the same advice, even if nowadays there is so much more paranoia around dangers facing children.
Celia’s old European neighbour sums up these wisdoms. She’s a caring old chicken whose Germanic asides to us between scenes are heavy-handedly delivered by Maggie Blinco.
It’s an odd narrative device and the only irritant in Oswald’s beautiful portrait of flawed characters struggling to find their way.
Excellently drawn subsidiary characters also fill out this portrait. Alice Parkinson superbly plays Kieran’s tough-shelled half-sister Sheena.
Despite herself, Sheena is dedicated to keeping Kieran away from his early flirtation with crime and drugs. And John Adam is the local town lawyer and decent do-gooder, one too scared to act on his impulses.
In this uniquely intimate theatre space, David Berthold directs a production as warm, fleshy and sweet as a ripe peach. The set design echoes those same themes of maturing nature.
The second act of dramatic events takes too long to unfold but The Peach Season is a touchingly funny, real and life-affirming experience.
The Peach Season is now running at the Stables Theatre, Kings Cross.