Reunion could be the usual tale of middle-class angst: the hitherto high-flying criminal lawyer with his teacher wife and comfortable home examining where life has taken them. But for Raymond, stricken with incurable motor-neurone disease, confined to a wheelchair and unable to control more than one hand, he feels his life is over and he just wants out. And he wants his Catholic wife, Antonia, to help him leave.
Raymond doesn't believe in God or sin, so his decision is affected only by legal, not religious consequences. His logical, lawyer's argument is that, as Antonia believes in a wonderful pain-free afterlife, why can't she help him reach it?
Antonia bustles around the kitchen, feeding Raymond, washing up and taking care of all the trivia of daily life while struggling with her belief that helping her husband to die would be a mortal sin. In the course of the day, secrets are revealed and old wounds picked over - scars that need to be soothed if the couple are to reach their individual peace.
John Caine has taken a highly topical issue but avoids the simplistic answer of the quick one-way trip to Switzerland. Instead, Reunion is full of the ambiguities of life, the affairs, abortion, mental illness, religious and legal certainties which battle each other to create a quiet storm of anguish in a suburban kitchen.
Peter Guinness is flawlessly convincing as Raymond, his dark humour surfacing through his permanent rage at his condition. Roberta Taylor's Antonia has that resigned, getting-on-with-it attitude of the stoic Englishwoman, wanting her husband to live, but then again, she's always done what he wanted, hasn't she?
Director Antony Biggs turns what could simply be an uncomfortable evening about assisted suicide into an exploration of complex issues with humour and warmth amongst the anger. With convincing portrayals of two very recognisable people, Reunion forces us to confront our own mortality and the decision we might too eventually be forced to make.
- Carole Gordon