American writers of the WASP persuasion seem to have started mourning the loss of their way of life just after the Mayflower set sail. And they’re not stopping: in Ancestral Voices, playwright A.R. Gurney (The Cocktail Hour, Love Letters) returns to his home territory of upstate New York to tell the tale of an errant grandmother whose adulterous affair divided an indivisible family and marred the unshakable innocence of Buffalo.
With literary predecessors from The Scarlet Letter to The Bridges of Madison County, this brief, well-made play — performed a la Love Letters with a rehearsal set and ever-changing cast — will be most enjoyed by people who, like its characters, crave familiar truths and sensible bedtimes. As the matriarch, Elizabeth Wilson was the standout in the original cast.