July 20, 2014

“Very good, Martin.” In Ross Howard’s Picture Ourselves in Latvia, Martin doesn’t have to do much to earn that approbation from Elizabeth Whitehall. But he is not, as you might infer, an overpraised middle-class American 10-year-old; he is an adult patient in a British mental institution where everybody is needy and selfish, even the staff (Nurse Whitehall, among them), and almost everybody wants someone he or she can’t have. Martin (a sweetly appealing Christopher Daftsios) may have a crush on his fellow patient Anna (Dana Benningfield, charmingly shy), who is from Latvia. But the big, burly Duncan (a likable Andy Nogasky) is always asking her out — which, in a psychiatric hospital, consists of an invitation to the television room. Oliver (Gregory James Cohan, convincingly grandiose), who is a big, giant liar, just wants to remind people how important he is. Apparently, he recovered the Falkland Islands from Argentina single-handedly and recalls consulting with Margaret Thatcher at the time (1982) by Skype. (The military has technological innovations long before the public, he explains.) The most frustrated would-be lovers are Dr. Rupert (Christian Ryan, wonderfully off center) and Nurse Whitehall (a solid Amy Lee Pearsall). Both are married to others; in fact, Nurse Whitehall has just returned from maternity leave. Luckily, they have their patients to turn to for romantic guidance during group therapy.