BBC Radio 7, 17 October 2010
In Marian Nancarrow's production Love in a Cold Climate came across as an upper-class soap opera set in the mid-1930s with class-consciousness at its heart. It involved two near-relatives - Fanny (Amanda Root), and Polly (Teresa Gallagher) - and their respective amatory adventures. Fanny marries Alfred (Tom Beard), and Oxford academic, and settles down to a life of happy domesticity: Polly marries Boy (Stephen Crichlow), her uncle by marriage, who for years has been her mother Lady Montdore's (Barbara Jefford's) lover. There is a large age-difference between Polly and Boy; so much so that they can seldom get along. They go to live in Italy; Boy has nothing to do, while Polly hates the life there. Eventually they return to England and Polly finds another lover.
In part Love in a Cold Climate is a satirical comedy, dramatizing the narrow horizons of expectations experienced by the British upper class between the wars, where young women are expected to "come out" and subsequently marry as soon as possible. Lady Montdore insists that her daughter Polly should find a partner as soon as possible, but blenches when she chooses to marry Boy. Nancarrow's production made great comic capital out of the life of balls (innuendo deliberately intended), marriage and the deliberate inability to understand anything else.
On the other hand Mitford, as a member of the upper class, actually feels affection for her fellow-citizens. They are somehow to be admired for their ceaseless quest of beauty. Cedric (William Hope) exists to pander to their whims; to help the women - particularly Lady Montdore - achieve perpetual youth through treatments, and fuss over them, even when such treatments are unsuccessful. Cedric is also sufficiently self-aware to understand how the women love to have their cake and eat it; they choose their men, ignore their mistakes and carry on in their own sweet way. They are resilient, like rubber balls bouncing back to make the same mistakes again and again.