Kenneth Lake, one of a number of students attending a summer foreign-language school on the French Riviera, in an idyllic existence upper-class students enjoyed in pre-World War II England. He is about twenty years old and good-looking in a vacuous way. He joins his friends in romantic frolics that involve the “ladies of the town.” The circle of students, of which he seems to be the leader by virtue of his droll wit, is untouched by the domestic or foreign problems looming on the English horizon.
Alan Howard, another of the students, about twenty-three years old. He is dark, saturnine, and serious. The only student to resist the seductive Diana, he makes it clear that his ideal woman will be able to converse intelligently on various subjects, will possess all the masculine virtues and no feminine vices, should be just attractive enough to be desirable and to remain faithful to him, and will be in love with him. He is interested in becoming a writer despite his parents’ wish that he follow in his father’s footsteps as a diplomat; he thus serves as the author’s surrogate. The play ends with his departure for London, Diana following closely on his heels.
Diana Lake, Kenneth’s sister, a beautiful seductress about twenty years old who lives up to her mythical name. She joins her brother and his fellow students at the French-language school...
(The entire section is 600 words.)