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Radio Plays: Romans


1977 Antique Farce, by Bruce Stewart
1982 Freedom Farewell, by Phyllis Bentley. Serial.
1983 Actors, or Playing for Real, by L de Vega
1985 I, Claudius, by Robert Graves
1990s Falco, several series
1993 The green hill, by John Fletcher
1994 Roman Epic, by Steve Walker
1997 The cookbook of Apicius, by Jim Miller
2002 The Spies, by David Pownall
2003 Romans, by Mike Walker
2003 The Jewish War, by Hattie Naylor.
2007 Keep your Pantheon, by David Mamet
2003-2007 Several plays under the title "Romans" by Mike Walker
2010 I, Claudius, dram. Robin Brooks

NOTES

ANTIQUE FARCE....1977
17 Dec 77, 90m.With George Cole, Kate O'Mara, Glyn Owen, Leonard Fenton. Directed by David Spencer. Interesting play set in Roman times. It concerns the fate of a group of actors who are commissioned to ridicule the Christians on the visit of the Emperor. There is a very unusual climax to the play. The story supposedly based on the legend of the patron saint of actors, whose name escapes me....

Actors, or Playing for Real....1983
By Lope de Vega - R3,Sun 3 Apr 83. The Roman actor Genesius who, playing the role of a Christian martyr in the theater for the amusement of the Emperor Diocletian, was moved to a true conversion by the role he was playing. In his case, the feigned experience became truth, the fictional role became reality, the scoffer became Saint Genesius, martyr.

Adapted freely by Peter Barnes from Evelyn Fishburn's translation of "Lo Fingido Verdadero" (c.1608), by Lope de Vega

With Denis Quilley [The Actor, Genesius], Timothy West [The Emporer Diocletian], Ronald Baddeley [The Emporer Aurelius], David Pyatt [Numerian], Patrick Barr [Appa], Alan Rickman [Carinus Ceasar], Sean Arnold [Maximian], James Carey [Curious], James Bryce [Marcius], Ann Beach [Camilia, the bread seller], Harold Innocent [Lentulus], Edward Cast [Lelius], Michael Bilton [Patricius], Frances Jeater [Rosada], Alex Jennings [Celio], and Mary Hedd, Hilda Schroder, Jean Trend [Christians and Courtesans].

The Actors: Peter Woodthorpe [Penabilus], Timothy Bateson [Fabricius], Stephen Boxer [Octavius], Stuart Organ [The Soldier], and Tina Marion [Marcella].

The Musicians: David Corkhill, Michael Dore, Christopher Lacey, Ron Leach, Robert White under the direction of the composer, Stephen Boxer. Directed by Ian Cotterell.

I, CLAUDIUS and CLAUDIUS THE GOD....1985
Superb dramatisation of the famous Roman epic by Robert Graves, with Timothy West. 22 Jul and 29 Jul, both 90m; directed by Glyn Dearman. There's a wonderful sound effect in one of the scenes where there's a battle involving elephants. TV cannot do this...SM Carol McShane.

THE GREEN HILL....1993
R4, 2 x 90m. Two linked plays, the first fantasy, the second sci-fi. 1:The Druid (2/4/93)- About the fate of a druid priest at the hands of the Roman invaders.

ROMAN EPIC....1994
An off-the-wall comedy starring Dinsdale Landen as Caractacus. See Steve's page.

THE COOKBOOK OF APICIUS....1997
The Cookbook of Apicius by Jim Miller ( 6 x 15 mins., beginning R4 2315 29 January 97 according to my records, 22 January according to RT), featured the well-known TV cook Keith Floyd as Roman culinary expert Apicius, ably assisted by his scribe Felix (Alan Francis). Political Correctness, animal rights and other 90s fads are forgotten as Apicius tells us how to prepare 'dormouse on a stick'. 'Get your baby dormouse, stick it alive in a nice little earthenware pot, with a lid obviously, but also a breathing hole.............feed on milk, white flour and honeyed wine.........I waited until the pot didn't rattle when shaken, meaning the mice are maximum size..........smashed the pots, skinned the mice and got cooking". Wonderful stuff and many will be hoping for a 2nd. series. (ND, VRPCC drama review, 1997. )

THE SPIES....2002
.........The Spies , also by David Pownall (R4, 3 Apr 02) took another look at the story of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, through the eyes of children paid by the Romans to spy on the disciples. A plausible plot, and an interesting perspective on the barbaric Roman regime. (ND, VRPCC review)

THE JEWISH WAR....2003
Based on Josephus. 45m, afternoon play.

KEEP YOUR PANTHEON....2007
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, where there's a funeral. He and his fellow actors get into trouble.

    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".
I,CLAUDIUS....2010
6 one-hour episodes, beginning 28 Nov 2010: excellent new dramatization by Robin Brooks.

Here's what Jane Anderson said about it in "Radio Times", in the run-up to episode 3, slightly edited and shortened:

.......the finest drama that I have ever heard on British radio. It certainly does not hurt to be working with Robert Graves' superlative source material, but this does the production no justice. It is a work of brilliance from the whole team - dramatist, director, actors, music, sound effects. Part 3 sees Emperor Tiberius teetering between a desire to give it all up and indulge his debauched sexual practices on an island, and hanging on to the threads of power that keep his twisted ego alive. As radio dramas go, this is a triumph.

Cast (for episode 3, taken from Radio Times): Tom Goodman-Hill, Tim McInnerney, Derek Jacobi, Harriet Walter, Samuel Barnett, Sam Dale, Hattie Morahan, Christine Kavanagh, Leah Brotherhead, Lloyd Thomas, Tony Bell, Sally Orrock, Jude Akuwudike, Sean Baker, Harry Devas, Claire Harry, Deeivya Meir, Adeel Akhtar, Iain Batchelor. Producer Jonquil Panting; music composed by David Pickavance.

More information about this production - see articles50 .

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Above plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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