Solzhenitsyn: Cancer Ward

BBC Radio 3: The Sunday Play

Broadcast: Sunday 8th November 1998 @ 7:30 p.m.

Set in 1955 in a cancer hospital in Tashkent, this classic of the Soviet period is a metaphor for the corruption endemic under Stalin, as revealed in Khrushchev's 'thaw'.

"Cancer Ward" examines the relationship of a group of people in the cancer ward of a provincial Soviet hospital in 1955, two years after Stalin's death. We see them under normal circumstances, and also re-examined at the eleventh hour of illness. Together, they represent a remarkable cross-section of contemporary Russian characters and attitudes. The experiences of the central character, Oleg Kostoglotov, closely reflect the author's own: Solzhenitsyn himself became a patient in a cancer ward in the mid-1950s, on his release from a labor camp, and later recovered.

Translated by Nicholas Bethell and David F. Burg from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's 1968 novel, "Rakovy korpus" (English translation - "Cancer Ward").

Dramatised by Olwen Wymark.

With Malcolm Storry [Oleg Kostoglotov], David Ryall [Pavel Nikolayevich Rusanov], Melanie Walters [Vera Kornilyevna Gangart], Gillian Barge [Dr. Ludmila Afanasyevna Dontsovna], Rhian Hefin [Zoya], Dorien Thomas [Yefrem Podduyev], Robert Harper [Dyoma], Simon Ludders [Vadim], Jonathan Adams [Alexei Shulubin], Christian Patterson [Proshka], Richard Elfyn [Lev Leonodovich], Siriol Jenkins [Asya], James Greene [Doctor], Christine Pritchard [Kapa Rusanova], and Stevie Parry [Nelya].

Original music composed by Colin Sell.

Directed by Alison Hindell in Wales.

Re-broadcast on Sunday 15th August 1999 @ 9:55 p.m. on BBC Radio 3: The Sunday Play

135 min.


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