Picks and Pans Review: Separation

updated 07/02/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/02/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Wed., June 27, 9 P.M. ET)

B+

In a two-character drama by Tom Kempinski for American Playhouse, a depressed, overweight British playwright, flat-bound by agoraphobia and stricken with numerous psychosomatic afflictions, is contacted by a New York City actress with a debilitating neurological disorder who wants to star in one of his plays off-off-Broadway. They establish a choppy but warm transatlantic telephone relationship.

The synopsis makes the play sound like a warped version of the Anne Bancroft-Anthony Hopkins film, 84 Charing Cross Road. Though things fizzle out once they meet face-to-face, and Rosanna Arquette vacillates between cutesy and mousey, David Suchet (Mystery's Hercule Poirot) is brilliant as the writer. His is one of the year's most charged, endearing and fully inhabited performances.

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