Unfolding in a sun-scorched peach orchard at harvest time, Debra Oswald’s “The Peach Season” is a delight-filled dramatic saga that, only when all is said and done, leaves behind the nagging sensation of being pregnant with excessive optimism. For all the playwright’s neat observations and well-drawn characters with pitch-perfect language, her unfailing belief in the underlying good of all men is hard to swallow.
Desperate to have the fruit picked on her isolated farm, Celia (Anne Looby) employs a pair of troubled itinerant siblings and almost instantly wishes she hadn’t.
Her 16-year-old daughter, Zoe (Maeve Dermody), falls for the boy, Kieran (Scott Timmins). She vanishes with him and descends into a desperate crime underworld, while the tortured Celia’s search for her uncovers nothing.
Some nice perfs bring Oswald’s characters to life: Looby is captivating as Celia, while the interplay between Griffin newcomers Dermody and the rubbery Timmins is charming.
But the drama has no teeth.
Zoe’s naiveness leads her astray, not her selfishness; Celia’s love for Zoe is what makes her overprotective, not her fear of outsiders; the stoic stepmom qualities of Kieran’s sister Sheena (Alice Parkinson) are emphasized over her predilection for choosing abusive partners.
A neighbor’s good-hearted son, Joe (John Adam), leaves a wife the audience doesn’t see because she’s a bitch; and Celia is obviously much more deserving of a husband as terrific as Joe.
Griffin’s intimate diamond-shaped stage pulses with harvest heat and pickers’ exhaustion. But Oswald’s follow-up to the excellent “Mr. Bailey’s Minder” is too nice by half.