There is in Diaz’s Lily a combination of fragility and strength, hope and disillusionment that suggests Laura Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” or Alma Winemiller in his “Summer and Smoke.” Individually and together, Sid and Lily are the closest “Ah, Wilderness!” comes to touching the darkness that is emblematic of O’Neill’s writing. But Bensussen, Diaz and Burnett keep that darkness at the outer edges. Together and individually, Diaz and Burnett work with honesty and delicacy.
Four actors stand out, even from this gifted group. Natascia Diaz, as Aunt Lily, and McCaleb Burnett as her life-long love, Sid, bring heartache into this otherwise almost too genial picture. In love since they were young, Sid’s drinking has destroyed their plans to marry, and though they still love each other, Lily is too wise to give into her feelings. Nowhere else in this play do we see such poignance, and Diaz and Burnett are captivating.
Other major characters in the play is the woman he pines for, Lily Miller, exquisitely taken on by Natascia Diaz. Their scenes together with McCaleb Burnett as Sid are especially touching and heartfelt and the chemistry between these actors is ideal.