by Peter Gill
The Strand Theatre, London
Review by Sheridan Morley, International Herald Tribune, 3 April 2002
At the Strand, Peter Gill is both writer and director of "The York Realist," and it would be easy to assume that this is also a kind of autobiography. Not only is it a 1960s update of those D.H. Lawrence family dramas with which Gill made his name at the Royal Court, but it is also specifically about the change that came over the Court and other theaters with the arrival of northern working-class actors of the Tom Courtenay-Albert Finney generation. But the title harks back to a still earlier theater, that of the York Mystery plays: The York Realist was England's first playwright and it is during a 1960s production that a young London director, (Richard Coyle) comes up to York and falls in love with a gorgeous young farm boy (Lloyd Owen). From then on, Gill's play is about two main issues: Can the old Lawrence family values be maintained in a rapidly shifting post-war climate, or could a farm boy move to London and make it in the brave new world of the angry young men? Gill is very good at looking for what is always left unsaid at family gatherings. His play is about the shifting sands of relative values, rural ethics, the invasion of the free-love 1960s into 1930s certainties and to what extent we are all the losers when all the old social and sexual rules are torn up.
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