In the guise of a “problem play”, an abstruse and esoteric argument.
Grandpa and young grandson share a malady of sorts, words are a mystery to them (this is given a name in Boston, dyslexia). Father is a cranberry grower, a “C” man in school.
A selectman is needed to resolve conflicts between developers and growers, grandpa is put forward. Father owns his own business, doesn’t want the boy diagnosed.
Mother intervenes, grandpa and grandson ride the bus to Boston, a vast city. A police car transports them from the subway station. Grandpa is quickly read for the condition.
It’s hereditary, you see.
A personal interpretation is perhaps uncalled-for. Galway Kinnell, poet and author of The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World, has for example understood Walt Whitman to have written homosexual verses, all in all.
This opens with plenty of lures for the disease-eating ghouls who haunt daytime television and primetime “investigative reports,” building up fulminating clouds of miseries to feast upon. And then, like something Biblical if you prefer, or just like sunshine through the rain, Vanessa Redgrave parts the clouds and puts you in the picture.
This is all the more surprising as her character is couched in abstract melancholy, set off against a posh retirement home. It all took good planning by the writer and director, and works well enough.
Consider it a variant of Grand Guignol, with Brock Peters in a significant cameo role.