Both men are, despite appearances, lonely and isolated. They credibly begin to form an attachment to one another and to let out the painful secrets that have crippled them for years, despite the unpromising beginning of their acquaintance (thrown together by a court order for community service, after Ross has almost knocked Mr Green down with his speeding car).
The play opens with neither man caring much about the other. Mr Green is quietly fading away in his drab apartment, frail, malnourished and ill-kempt since the death of his wife two months before. Ross is busy busy busy, a rising executive in a successful corporation. Thanks to an intractable judge, they are compelled to continue a course of weekly visits. Mr Green visibly warms to his young visitor once he learns that Ross too is Jewish, only to retreat again when he explains that he is gay. The inexplicable world view of an older generation who believed that rules were rules and laws must be obeyed is movingly evoked, as is Ross’s bewilderment and pain at Mr Green’s lack of acceptance of him, and sympathy for his horrible homophobic father. Then the central revelation of the play (which I won’t spoil for you) breaks upon us, and we stand appalled at the damage that inflexible principles can inflict on a person, a marriage, a family, a society. But there is hope; Mr Green and Ross learn from one another and eventually stand up for tolerance and affection, human-kindness and soul
This is a gentle, melancholic, humane play, reflective and sweet-natured, as well as occasionally very funny. It’s also a wonderful chance to watch a master at work. As Warren Mitchell is now 81, who knows how many more such chances we will get? Not to be missed.