Martin Sorrell Radio Plays

Martin Sorrell is Professor of French Poetry & Literary Translation at University of Exeter. He has published many books and articles in his field, and is a prize-winning translator of French poetry. He has published translations of Moliere plays for Nick Hern Books. Details of his radio plays are below:

Never Mind, I Stopped my Train*! R4 Aug 1992.
Trapped* R4 Feb 1998.
Mary, Mary R4 May 2001.
Title unknown R4 May 2004.
The Glass Man* R4 Dec 2005.

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

Notes on the plays, supplied by Martin:

1. "Never Mind, I Stopped my Train!" Directed by Martin Jenkins. With Martin Jarvis. (A dramatisation of heroic action by two enginemen on a Great Western Railway train in 1898. A true story, involving my own great-grandfather).

2. "Trapped" Directed by Martin Jenkins. (Dramatisation of the Theatre Royal Exeter fire of 1887, in which 180 or so died, and which led to compulsory Safety Curtains in all theatres).

Both above plays were part of "Who Sings the Hero?" series.

3. "Mary, Mary" Directed in Bristol by Sara Davies. With Lucy Briers. (The events of Pride & Prejudice as misinterpreted by one of the Bennett daughters, who thinks all men, Darcy and Bingley included, were really in love with her).

All these plays were picked up by many national dailies in their preview slots. "Mary, Mary" in particular was featured, and was also included in Radio 4's Pick of The Week. The BBC Listener's Panel gave it a top rating of 75.

A note from Martin Sorrell

Why I write: I find radio drama -- at its best, and there is some disappointing writing accepted -- as powerful as any stage drama. For me, the attraction is that all the dramatic power, tension, reversals and resolution have to be achieved by words. It's so much a medium for the writer, in an exact sense. Particularly, I am drawn by the dramatic tension that exists between an outside reality and a private, "unspoken" one, often inside the mind of characters. The monologue and soliloquy therefore seem to me particularly distinctive building-blocks of radio drama. Radio can voice the unvoiced in a way virtually no other medium can. "Mary Mary" was about an outside world and an individual's inside re-interpretation of it. My new play (about Ezra Pound) will be about the contrast between one character's inner lucidity and his inability to convey sense to anyone.

Martin Sorrell, 2002


Some contemporary British writers choose their sinners:

Colette, written by Michele Roberts.
Jim Morrison, written by Geoff Dyer.
Sarah Bernhardt, written by Louise Welsh.
Guillaume Apollinaire, written by Martin Sorrell.
Abelard and Eloise, written by Paul Bailey.

I seem to have mislaid my note of the title of this play - can anyone help, please?

Neil Sorrell, Martin's musician brother, senior lecturer at York University, was asked to create 15 minutes of music, using only the sounds of glass, for Martin's radio play "The Glass Man".

The play is about an unusual medical condition causing sufferers to believe they are turning to glass.

The 'glass delusion' - a state of profound anxiety now associated with severe depression - was relatively common in the Middle Ages. King Charles VI of France was a sufferer and had iron ribs sewn into his clothing to protect himself in case of a fall while in 1610, Cervantes wrote a novella The Glass Graduate about the condition.

Neil used as his instruments wine glasses, large vessels from the University's Department of Chemistry and even the inside of a vacuum flask. He enlisted the help of second-year postgraduate student in the Department of Music, Chilean Felipe Otondo, to act as recording engineer.

It took 24 hours of studio time to produce 15 minutes of music. The Glass Man directed by Sara Davies, and starring Cark Prekopp, Saskia Reeves, Barbara Flynn and Stephen Perring, was the afternoon play on 6 Dec 05.

The play was interspersed with interviews involving glass makers and a contribution from Andrew Solomon, whose book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, includes an account of the delusion.

More information about Neil's music is on the York University website - Music Dept.

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