This superb drama is new to video after being originally presented in 1994 on television. It’s wonderful to have it available again. The story revolves around the camaraderie between Sir Sidney Cockerell (Sir John Gielgud), curator of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge; George Bernard Shaw (Patrick McGoohan), the Nobel Prize-winning author; and playwright and Dame Laurentia McLachlan (Dame Wendy Hiller), Abbess of Stanbrook Abbey. At one point the articulate curator states: "Friendship is like a plant that withers if it is not heedfully fostered and tendered. It is only by constant thought, by visits, by little service and by astounding sympathy that friends can be kept." These friends share their ideas, experiences and enthusiasms with each other mainly through letters. Sir Sydney Cockerell, a very reserved fellow, offers a startling contrast to the iconoclastic playwright and the authoritarian abbess. He expects a lot from his friends, and Shaw and McLachlan certainly fill the bill.

During a visit to the Holy Land, George Bernard Shaw picked up two pebbles from the threshold of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem; he describes them as chips in the limestone rock which certainly existed when the feet of Jesus pattered about on it and the feet of Mary pursued him. Upon his return to England, Shaw presented the pebbles to Dame Laurentia McLachlan with these words: "I picked up two little stones: one to be thrown blindfold among the others in Stanbrook garden so there may always be a stone from Bethlehem there, though nobody will know which it is and be tempted to steal it, and the other for your own self."

This drama, adapted from a play by Hugh Whitemore and directed by Alvin Rakoff, is a convincing portrait of how friendship can spiritually enrich one's life. The performances are top-drawer, and the language and dialogue luxurious. At one point, the Abbess says: “What a mystery friendship is and how strangely and delightfully one's friends differ one from the other. Some we have to carry. Others carry us. The perfect friend to my mind is one who believes in you from the start and never requires explanations and assurances. True friendship is one of the subtle and beautiful forces that glorify life."