Radio Plays, 2007

The Pitmen Painters….2007

By Lee Hall. 23 dec 07. Inspired by the book by William Feaver, writer Lee Hall questions why the arts seem to belong to the privileged few. Seventy years ago, in an old army hut in Ashington, Northumberland, a group of miners met to talk about art. They wanted their visiting lecturer to explain the secret of a remote world, but he did better than that, he got them painting and put that world in their hands. (BBC publicity)

The Pitmen Painters asks - as Hall did in Billy Elliot - why the arts seem to belong to a privileged cabal. What makes others - that's to say, most of the population - feel excluded? I hope the Culture Secretary has booked a ticket, because the question - the main point he should be tackling - will probably never again be put so buoyantly.

Seventy years ago, in an old army hut in Ashington, Northumberland, a group of miners met to talk about art. Most of them had started down the pit when they were 12; none of them had been inside an art gallery; they wanted their visiting university lecturer to explain the secret of a remote world. He did better than that: he got them painting and put that world into their hands. They painted ponies hauling coal, women pumping water for washday, men showing off whippets. 'We made our life into art,' one of them says. 'It don't get better than that.'" ……..Susannah Clapp, The Observer

"What struck me most about the Pitmen Painters was that despite being a group of very ordinary men whose personal histories had been harsh and brutal: surviving war, personal tragedy, and the scantest of educations, they wrote knowledgeably about Cezanne and Picasso, and were ardent devotees of Turner, Ruskin and Blake.

The idea that art is somehow a commodity, that culture is something one consumes rather than takes part in, is, of course, a very modern notion. Culture is something we share and we are all the poorer for excluding anyone from it." ……..Lee Hall, Aug2007

George Brown ...... Deka Walmsley
Oliver Kilbourn ...... Christopher Connel
Jimmy Floyd ...... David Whitaker
Young lad, Ben Nicholson ...... Brian Lonsdale
Harry Wilson ...... Michael Hodgson
Robert Lyon ...... Ian Kelly
Susan Parks ...... Lisa McGrillis
Helen Sutherland, Vera Brown ...... Phillippa Wilson

Directed for radio by Kate Rowland.

Comment from ND: Great writing and a superb production. Will it be entered for an award, I wonder?

A Warning to the Furious….2007
Christmas 2007. By Robin Brooks. A feminist film-maker and her crew visit the Suffolk coast to make a documentary about ghost story writer MR James. They hope to discover how a respectable bachelor could produce such horrors. A modern tale with very creepy overtones.

Karen ...... Lucy Robinson
Zara ...... Catherine Shepherd
Guy ...... Carl Prekopp
Bob ...... Gerard McDermott
Bookshop man ....;.. Andrew Wincott
Producer/director Fiona McAlpine.

A Night in the Ukraine….2007
Christmas 2007. Special adaptation of the Marx Brothers' award-winning musical, written by Dick Vosburgh and loosely based on Chekov's play The Bear.

Seedy lawyer Serge B Samovar comes to collect a debt owed by the late husband of Mrs Pavlenko. Mayhem erupts in a series of classic routines and quickfire wordplay which threatens to destroy the very fabric of polite society in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Serge ...... Michael Roberts
Carlo ...... Frank Lazarus
Mrs Pavlenko ...... Lorelei King
Nina ...... Jessica Martin
Constantin ...... Stephen Carlile
Gino ...... Graham Hoadly
Music by Frank Lazarus, producer/director Dirk Maggs.

84 Charing Cross Road….2007
Christmas 2007. By Helene Hanff, adapted by James Roose-Evans. The friendship between an outgoing American writer and a reserved English gentleman. This true tale spans two continents and three decades.

Helene ...... Gillian Anderson
Frank ...... Denis Lawson
Nora ...... Brid Brennan
Cecily ...... Alison Pettitt
Megan ...... Ella Smith
William ...... Simon Treves
George ...... Peter Marinker
Maxine ...... Laurel Lefkow
Mary ...... Marlene Sidaway
Director: Tracey Neale. ……

    edited comment from bbc messageboard......A tinge of sadness for me as I listened because memories flooded back of Miss Hanff’s interesting and enjoyable ‘Letters From New York’ which were broadcast on ‘Woman’s Hour’ in the 70’s/80/’s. (…-from l-j)

    .......short excerpt from Helen Hanff's obituary in the Daily Telegraph, 11 Apr 97:
    Miss Hanff first wrote to the Marks bookshop in London in 1949, seeking out-of-print titles. It was the beginning of a 20-year correspondence with its manager, Frank Doel.

    When she finally compiled their letters in a book she was in her fifties and at a low ebb, her scripts and plays rejected. One rejection slip arrived in the same post which told her Doel was dead. In 1971 the book was published, captivating readers, and then a successful film, starring Anne Bancroft in Helene Hanff's character and Anthony Hopkins as Frank Doel.

    By the time she arrived in London to publicise her book, the shop had closed. She climbed its stairs and looked at the empty shelves and said out loud, "Frank, I finally made it." She hoped he heard, she said later. Michael Reddington, who produced the stage adaptation of the book, said: "She was opinionated and strong, like the character in the book. Her book is unique."

Late December 07; by Peter Souter. Sam, a successful advertising agent, has mislaid the woman he loves.

Sam ...... Rory Kinnear
Gemma ...... Tamsin Greig
Fats ...... Nicky Henson
VO?Bella ...... Laura Molyneux
Charlotte ...... Joannah Tincy
Aaron/Noodle ...... Kerry Shale

Producer Gordon House.

    BBC messageboard - edited comments:

    ……..."I remember Graeme Garden saying that he found writing for radio harder than writing for TV: with TV you can just have the audience watch something but with radio you have to write continuous dialogue. 'Puddle' kept this up; a well paced narrative with plenty of stuff going on and kept me smiling!

    I'll be searching for Peter's name on R4 sites in future. It was a very funny and original play; the casting was quite excellent, and the setting perfect for radio.

    Does anyone know of any other plays by this writer?

Seeing It Through....2007
90m. R3. By Neil Brand. Imagine if Alastair Campbell had recruited Tom Stoppard, JK Rowling, Ian McEwan and Jeanette Winterson to write patriotic literature supporting the war in Iraq. In 1914 Charles Masterman used the literary and artistic elite to unite the nation against the common enemy. Wells, Bennett, Hardy all rallied to the cause. A fascinating unknown story of WW1.

Cast: Masterman ...... Michael Maloney, Jean ...... Clare Corbett, Lloyd George ...... Robert Pugh, HG Wells ...... Sam Dale, Frances Stevenson ...... Honeysuckle Weeks, Frank ...... Sam Pamphilon, Dwyer ...... Ben Crowe, Robert Donald ...... John Dougall, Arnold Bennett ...... Simon Treves, Thomas Hardy ...... Peter Marinker, directed by David Hunter.

FAME & FORTUNE....2007
For a six week period beginning in mid- October we had FAME AND FORTUNE by Frederick Raphael occupying both the Friday Play and Saturday Play slots (R4, ep. 1 on Sat 6 Oct, rpt Fri 12 Oct 07) . For those that are not aware, this is a novel, a sequel to "The Glittering Prizes", which followed a group of Cambridge graduates into the academic and media worlds of the 1960s. It was televised many years ago, with Tom Conti as its Jewish hero, Adam Morris.

In the radio adaptation of Fame and Fortune, Tom Conti is back as Morris. It's set when the characters have reached middle age. The cast also features Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers and Angela Down. The producer was Jo Wheeler. It had a "Classic Serial" feel about it, and a number of people wrote to the BBC messageboard asking if one-off play should disappear for several weeks in favour of a serial. I suppose the answer is - it depends on which plays and which serial you're talking about. Nevertheless the fortunes of the rather unpleasant individuals in Raphael's novel continued to provoke interest in some quarters, and showing nicely that high intelligence doesn't prevent stupid or selfish behavour.

The novel marks Raphael's return to fiction after a personal block following the death of his daughter, the artist Sarah Raphael, in 2001, at the age of 41. Raphael comments, regarding bereavement, "People tell you it gets better. It doesn't. You become different. It becomes a feature of life. There is a certain reckoning with mortality. But you can't spend you whole life advertising this to people". (ND, VRPCC newsletter)

Note... mistake in RT.... Dirk Maggs not involved with the production .... thanks for the info, DM.... ND.

R4, Saturday Play, 29 Sep 07. Satyajit Ray's famous Bengali detective Feluda returns for another adventure, dramatised by Ray Grewal. Drawn by the extravagant claims of a mysterious holy man who has swum 200 miles up the Ganges, Feluda visits Benares during the festival of Durga. A valuable statuette of Ganesh is stolen from a famous household. Could the holy man, or even arch-enemy Meganlal Meghraj, be connected to the crime? Feluda (Prodosh Mitter) ...... Rahul Bose, Lalmohan Ganguly ............ Anupam Kher, Topshe ............. Hari Balasubramaniam, Machchli Baba ............. Jackie Shroff, Meganlal Meghraj ............ Dalip Tahil, Abhaycharan ................ Ameen Sayani, Umanath Ghoshal ............. Anang Desai, Vikas .................... Arghiya Lahiri, Inspector Tiwari ........ Shahrookh Irani, Niranjan .................... Atul Tiwari, Shashi .................. Sumantra Ghosal, Ruku .................... Hormuz Dadabhoy, Suraj ...................... Varun Murali. Directed by Anne Edyvean.

10 Aug, R4, Friday Play. You couldn't fail to get the message in the muscular drama, Breaking Point, in which the effect of a man's recruitment to military intelligence rubbed off on his personal life. Elliot Cowan and Naomi Frederick played the couple for whom married life became a brutal game of cat and mouse. Author Philip Palmer and producer Toby Swift cleverly subverted expectations by imbuing domestic scenes, such as the wife in labour, with a sinister air while giving comic undertones to interrogation sessions. (shortened excerpt from review by M.P., in "The Stage")

25 jul 07, R4. What would this resourceful orphan have thought of the artist featured in Icarus Falling by Jonathan Davidson, who is haunted rather than inspired by the ghosts of his early success? Wishing to see landscape painting from a different perspective, he becomes fixated on gliding but can never escape his inner misery. (short excerpt from review by M.P., in "The Stage")

A Two Pipe Problem ....2007
23 Jul 07., R4. Michael Chaplin’s comedy stars Stanley Baxter and Richard Briers as two old actors who end up in the same retirement home. They're retired actors and played Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes on radio and TV but it turned them into sworn enemies. But they take on their old roles when there’s a mystery to solve. This case involves a ventriloquist and his missing dummy, both played by Ken Campbell). Elizabeth Spriggs and Wendy Richard also star. Summarised from Gillian Reynolds' review in DT.

........It was the joyful casting of Michael Chaplin’s A Two Pipe Problem that made this actors’ retirement home mystery a triumph. Richard Briers and Stanley Baxter, having unhappily played opposite each other as Holmes and Watson, lived out the roles for real with much harrumphing after Ken Campbell’s ventriloquist’s doll went missing. Stir in Wendy Richard and Elizabeth Spriggs and you have an acting masterclass. ....Moira Petty, "The Stage", 30 Jul 07.

I seem to remember another play about a missing vent's dummy in the last year or two, also set in a retirment home. Anyone remember the title? - N.D.

Excellent two-part Friday Play (120m) broadcast 13 Jul and 20 Jul 07 about the oil industry in Nigeria and some of the conflicts of interest between the indigenous people and those, like us, who use the oil. Cast: Ian Puleston-Davies, Charlotte Emmerson,, Cyril Nyi, Brigit Forsyth, Richard Pepple, Sue Jenkins, David Fleeshman, James Nickerson, Abi Eniola. Written by Andrew Walker; produced by Gary Brown.
    A listener on the BBC messageboard commented: "I was irritated to hear a character in the Friday Play describe "Peak Oil" as being the point when we have used up half of the planet's reserves.But Peak Oil is when we get to the point where we can not produce oil any faster - in other words the peak of production. One reason this is important is that it may happen well after we have used up 50% of reserves.

    Another reason is that it defines the rate of oil use for the whole world. With demand increasing but the rate of production frozen it is only a matter of time until demand outstrips supply - at that point the price of oil will rocket and all the oil based economies will be in serious trouble. Ironically, the oil companies themselves will be able to effectively hold the world to ransom - it won't be their employees losing their jobs, althought this too is what is suggested in this drama. I hope that the second episode makes some of these things clear - otherwise this is going to have to go down as a poorly researched piece of drama."

    Another listener replied: I don't think it was that much mis-represented - if you look at a graph of peak oil - the area under the curve shows half remaining - but don't you agree it is more important to get the message across?

    It was an excellent play, written by - a BBC journalist? Does anyone know the author?

    ND comment: This is drama, not science, and the listener needs to have a clear picture of what's going on. A play isn't the place to split hairs over definitions. Plays often need simplification or modifications to the truth, to make them work as drama.

    Look at Shakespeare's Richard III. No-one regards it as historically accurate, but this doesn't diminish it as a work of art.

      A digest of more comments from the messageboard....

      LJ: ...It was written by Andrew Walker (the economics correspondent with the World Service?) and Christopher Reason (q.v.).

      R4 trailed the play quite heavily as concentrating specifically on the issue of the Peak Oil thesis – and in my opinion it didn’t. The Friday Play is usually the one that’s supposed to tax the intellect which is possibly why some listeners are critical.

      I don’t know if other contributors noticed, but I thought it had a definite ‘Saturday Night Theatre’ feel about it – ‘Liz’ and ‘Rob’ reminded me of Mike and Claire Nash out of Waggoners’ Walk. I was intrigued as to how a grown man can hide in the hatch area of a Peugeot 205. In fact I tried it myself and the parcel shelf was balanced on my head, so the rebels would certainly have caught me. I liked the ending to part (1): ‘Hello Dad’, so tuned into Part (ii).

      Perhaps Mary Goldring would have been the ideal person to have written a play about Peak Oil. It would have been full of interesting technical and economic info., relating to the decline of oil production – and would also have possessed a digestible romance/sexual content. Miss Goldring would certainly have described Dr. Turner’s deep blue eyes in great detail!

      MHC......This was brilliant, gripping, wonderful radio drama, I was rivetted by the first episode and had the radio on in every room in the house as I ploughed my way through the housework determined not to miss one second - and was not disappointed.

      I have some knowledge of the oil industry but am not an expert and listen to radio dramas for entertainment, to take me away from reality. The factual programmes give me information and often leave me depressed but this was fantastic fictional entertainment right up to the last second. More please of the same, please.

Not for the squeamish. From the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, who specialise in taking official transcripts editing them to play length, and mounting them as drama. This one is based on the examination by two barristers and their juniors of what evidence there was to back an indictment of Tony Blair for the crime of aggression against Iraq. Testimony came from civil servants, MPs, diplomats, UN officials and intelligence experts. The cast includes Jeremy Clyde as diplomat Edward Mortimer and Diane Fletcher as Clare Short; Nicolas Kent directs. ......based on remarks by Gillian Reynolds in the Daily Telegraph, 14 Jul 07

R4 1415 9 Jul 07. By David Pownall. Interesting biographical tale of the MP and playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who was for a time a close friend of the Prince of Wales. Having faced his father's refusal to give up the throne, "Prinny" turns to Sheridan for advice. Stars Richard E. Grant as the playwright and Anthony Glennon as George, Prince of Wales. Other cast members: Frances Tomelty (narrator), David Horovitch, Gerard Murphy, Jasmine Callan, Richard Howard, Fo Cullen. Produced by Eoin O'Callaghan.

Readers may remember Frances Tomelty as the SM in Stewart Parker's "Radio Pictures" (q.v.) ...ND

HUMBLE BOY....2007
By Charlotte Jones. Saturday play, 90m. 23 Jun 07. Felix Humble is a Cambridge scientist with plenty of brains butlittle sense. Like Einstein, he's in search of a Unified Field theory. Following the death of his father, he returns to his home and his mother. He soon realises that his life is a sham and a substitute for real living; he can't relate to ordinary people. There are some moments of high comedy. Cast: Adrian Scarborough as the academic no-hoper, Diana Rigg as the mother, Marcia Warren, Nicky Henson, Cathryn Bradshaw, John Standing. Producer Steven Canny.

Summarised excerpt from review by Moira Petty, in "The Stage":

Charlotte Jones fields a different type of anti-hero in Humble Boy. Her astro-physicist Felix is bullied by his mother, overshadowed by his late father, outwitted by his one-time lover and even the equations which will bring him academic fame elude him. Jones has always written for radio so it is appropriate that this, her greatest theatrical hit, should have been adapted for it.

Felix vacillates between optimism and pessimism. Adrian Scarborough played him with a touching elegiac quality that brought to mind a young Alan Bennett. As his mother, Diana Rigg was overbearing but finally revealed a telling humanity. Marcia Warren as her drudge of a friend made what could have been a cliche into a fully-fleshed character while Nicky Henson was splendidly bouncy as Rigg’s suitor.

Brief Lives….2007
By Tom Fry and Sharon Kelly. 19 Jun 07. Frank Twist has brought together some of the North West's best freelance legal advisers to create a police station defence team in the North. The Agency operates 24/7, dispatching legal reps to set free burglars, muggers, murderers and even some innocent people who find themselves on the wrong side of a cell door.

Frank ...... David Schofield
Dee Dee ...... Denise Welch
Ben ...... Kwame Kwei-Armah
James ...... Mikey North
Johnny ...... Andrew Schofield
McGregor/Milo ...... Rod Matthew
DC Highton ...... James Quinn
DC Price ...... Deborah McAndrew
Producer Susan Roberts.

HUT 33 .... 2007
By James Cary. Comedy drama series based at Bletchley Park codebreaking centre during the war. Began 25 Jun 07. With Robert Bathurst.

ABEL'S LAW....2007
20 Jun 07. In 1895 an Oxfordshire shopkeeper broke the law by refusing to have his child vaccinated against smallpox. His stand led to legal proceedings and a change in the law. With Mark Meadows, James Laurenson. Producer Jeremy Howe.

Not a radio play - but thought it worth mentioning that the 60th anniversary broadcast went out on 17 Jun 07.

This was originally a stage drama, written in 1984.
Edited extracts from a theatre review by Ben Brantley, 1994.

This is Stephen Poliakoff's drama about a wool-gathering Russian aristocrat doing his best to ignore the Bolshevik Revolution. Lacking the animating spleen of Mr. Poliakoff's better-known diatribes against a spiritually impoverished England, it is a slow-moving, exposition-heavy work built around stiff social archetypes.

Inspired by stories of Mr. Poliakoff's grandfather, "Breaking the Silence" takes place entirely in a railroad car to which the Pesiakoffs, a White Russian family, have been consigned by the new government in 1920. The father, Nikolai (Mr. Davison), a scientific genius of severe elegance and frosty reticence, has been given the superfluous job of telephone inspector, which he ignores to pursue his experiments in bringing sound to film.

While the struggles of a world in turmoil take place outside the train, ultimately transforming Nikolai's wife, son and loyal servant, Nikolai remains self-absorbed, with a stoical adherence to an outmoded code of living.

Edited excerpts from Radio Review, 18 Jun 07, "The Stage"
Dramatist Stephen Poliakoff’s Russian Jewish emigre grandfather, an inventor who left his homeland with his family after the Revolution, smuggling diamonds in their shoes to fund their new life, inspired the 1984 play of a family in exile, Breaking The Silence.

It was first produced by the RSC, but his focus on the internal lives of his characters, living through change or looking back in reflective analysis, makes his plays eminently adaptable for radio.

In Breaking The Silence, a man of brilliant ideas and the polished manners of a previous era is forced, under Stalin, to eke out his life of the mind and refined politenesses in unimaginable new circumstances. He is ordered to work as telephone examiner on the Northern Railway and set up home, with the family silver, in one room. Anton Lesser played the inventor (who, like Poliakoff’s grandfather, was in the forefront of bringing sound to the movies) with an authentic sense of melancholy.

Juliet Stevenson was his wife, in an understated performance in which she evoked a woman freeing herself of the constraints of her old life. She removed her stockings to feel the sun on her legs and quietly did the office administration her husband ignored, an omission seen as subversive in such dangerous times.

The entire household, which also included their son (Oliver J Hembrough) and servant (Anna Madeley), were forced out of their old attitudes by the new challenges of their lives. Nikolai's’s wife voices how she felt under her husband’s benevolent repression. As the family sped into exile, her husband acknowledged how she had enabled the whole family to release their separate energies.

Additions by N.D. .....Broadcast 16 Jun 07, 90m; rest of cast: Gary Lewis, John Flitcroft, Jez Thomas; directed by Peter Leslie Wild.

EX LIBRIS....2007
Repeated from about a year ago. Excellent writing and casting. This play attracted a lot of comment, even on the repeat, on the BBC messageboard, for example:

I was quite moved; can barely believe it was only 45 minutes long. The writer was so clever to have condensed so much into such a short time. I really felt I knew the characters and it has made me want to revisit the Romantic poets, especially Coleridge. Thank you Nicholas McInerny for such a gem. It really lifted my afternoon.

...I totally agree; a beautifully constructed play- thought provoking, too; how many of us allow fear to prevent us from doing what we really want? (although being affluent allows one to indulge in ones 'inner self', more than if you are a 'wage slave').

Smoke and Mirrors....2007
11 jun 07. By Paul B Davies. The Great Kalanag, Adolf Hitler's favourite conjuror, is touring the US during the 1950s when he is confronted by his dubious past in Nazi Germany. With Geoffrey Durham; can't remember the other actors but this is a proper drama, not a monologue. Producer Jolyon Jenkins.

By Wally K Daly. Broadcast BBC7, in six episodes: 28, 29, 30, 31 May, 1, 4 June 2007. Produced by Dan Garrett. Technical realisation Steve Foe, Tanya Bular (spelling?), Giles Aspen.

Cast in order of appearance
Mike Jago …………. Judy Bennett
Janey Jago …………. Abagail Docherty
Peter Jago …………. Simon Radford
Headmaster ………... Peter Jeffrey
Store manager ……... Danny Schiller
Woman in store ….… Oriel Smith
Uncle Brian ……....... Frank Windsor
Aunty Vi …………... Jo Manning-Wilson
Vacal ………………. Tariq Alibai
Police officers ……... Elizabeth Mansfield, John Talbot Gang leader ……....... Tony Redham
Accomplice ……....... Busker (?)
Vacal …………….… Tariq Alibai
Inspector ……….….. Fraser Kerr
Massud ……………. Amajit Dhu (spelling?)
Grandfather Edward Kelsey
Other parts ………… Timothy Carlton, Joanna Myers , Andrew Wincott, David Bannerman.

By Brandon Thomas Recorded before a live audience at Manchester Grammar School in December 2000. Broadcast BBC7 - 20th May 2007. Adaptation Jonathan Hall, director Polly Thomas.

Charley Wickham …………. Morgan George
Jack Chesney ……………… John Griffin
Lord Fancourt Babberly …… Chris Langham
Sir Francis Chesney ……….. Derek Griffiths
Stephen Spettigue …………. James Quinn
Amy Spettigue …………….. Rena Mahoney
Kitty Verdun ………………. Fenella Woolgar
Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez … Bridget Forsyth
Ella Delahay ………………. Alison Darling

by Daphne du Maurier. Broadcast BBC7 - 18th May 2007. Adaptation: Moya O'Shea, director Tracey Neale.

Paul Wilcox ……….. Stella
Jonathan Firth …....... Evan
Alice Hart …………. Cherry
John Rowe ………… Robert
Susan Jameson …….. Mrs Tuggit

4 Jun 07. Political satire based on events in 1940. See John Fletcher page.

By Elizabeth Lewis. Dramatisation of the relationship between Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy, a young Irishman, as revealed in Jane's letters to her sister Cassandra. With Jasmine Hyde and Andrew Scott; produced by Celia de Wolff. 1 Jun 07.

Comic play about a sink school on the point of being closed down. It's in "special measures" and the inspectors are due, again, to see if it should be allowed to continue as a school. So the head has the bright idea of getting all the troublemakers off the site whilst the officials make their visit. He gives the job to his least reliable member of staff. Stars Leigh Symonds, Mikey North, Lucy-Jo Hudson, Sacha Dhawan and Howard Chadwick. Produced by Gary Brown.

TOM JONES....2007
The well-known story by Fielding, dramatised by Stephen Wyatt in three one-hour episodes. I would have liked it over a few more weeks, but it worked well. Produced by Claire Grove. With Simon Russell Beale and Michael Legge, and Margaret Tyzack as Miss Western.

THE BIRDS....2007
26 May 07. By Daphne du Maurier. This isn't based on the film, but the original short story. The dramatisation is by Melissa Murray, who has about twenty original radio plays and dramatisations to her credit. Flocks of murderous birds gather in the hedgerows and trees in a small Cornish village. Nat, a former military man who's just moved in, knows something is wrong when seagulls start flying into the walls of his cottage. Eventually there's a siege. Then things get worse ... directed by Sally Avens, and stars Neil Dudgeon, Nicola Walker, Jade Williams, Gerard Horan, Carl Grose, John Dougall and Rachel Bavidge. Music by David Pickvance.

By David Mamet. 28 May 07. Set in ancient Rome. It's by Jarvis and Ayres productions, 45m, and Martin jarvis plays the part of an arrohgant actor Strabo who is commissioned to supply some entertainment at a family gathering, but ends up at the wrong house.
    Gillian Reynolds......"Strabo, leader of an ancient Roman touring troupe of actors struggling to survive in a time of military alert. They find themselves in dire trouble for attempting to play comedy while the 10th legion is conducting a funeral".

BACKTRACK .... 2007
10 Feb. By Jill Hyem. Begins in a centre for the homeless. Jan is roped in as a volunteer. She comes into contact with a young down-and-out with whom she becomes almost obsessed. Saturday play. With Maxine Peake, Joseph Kloska, Mark Straker. Producer Jane Morgan.

For those who are unaware, Jill has been writing plays for BBC R4 since the sixties. Please visit her page for details. (Radio Plays - Writers - Jill Hyem)

By Caroline Scott-Jeffs. 17 Jan. This play caused 37 messages to appear on the BBC messageboard over the course of about a week. That's a good sign. It provoked some arguments, too. I'm reproducing a few comments which I think were representative of the majority view. If you see your contribution and want it removed, please email me. I do not know how to contact you.

    Message 1 - posted by "giggleoldfart"
    Such a warm play.The dialogue positively fizzed along,overflowing with wit,wisdom,humour,insight and irony.The characters were so very well drawn,so very real.I was thoroughly absorbed by their predicaments and delighted at the close to find their seperate journeys had somehow brought them together.Aristotle at the hairdressers,and at last i know how to iron my shirts!Three cheers for Ms Scott Jeffs,an exquisitely intelligent writer.

    Message 3 - posted by 'SteveEastVillage'
    I found it an entertaining 45 minutes. Not the best play in the world and was a bit predictable early on, but I knew where we were going. It was harmless and rather fun. I like the way The Afternoon Play is programmed. One day it's heavy, the next a light comedy or romance.

    Message 8 - posted by 'kenfourlistner'
    I too listened to this play and enjoyed it enormously, I even re-listened because I forgot the punch line to the husband shop joke. I chat to my own hairdresser and have had the same one for twenty two years.

    This play was about more than just a hairdressers it was a comment on the many roles women have to occupy in order to fit into male society, it was full of common language and experiences of women in order to deliver what is essentially a rather incendiary comment on male-definitions in a recognisable and inoffensive manner. women are still not free, the bonds holding us are just now constructed of subtler chains disguised as choices.

    Any way, it made me smile; I like that in a play. It's harder to do that than make people angry or laugh.

Above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections.

compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website.

Some of the information (and recordings) supplied by Lynne Ward - many thanks.

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