Toby Swift Radio Plays

25 11 2008 - Drama which explores manic depression; by Trevor Preston. Thomas's dreams are like thriller plots; even if his daily life is anything but. His complex relationship with his partner Lizzie reaches crisis point when he tries to steal a lorry to drive a load of supermarket food to Africa. Thomas ...... Rory Kinnear, Dr Klein ...... Susan Engel, Amy ...... Fenella Woolgar, Lizzie ...... Janice Acquah, Peter ...... Paul Rider, Dr Beard ...... Jonathan Tafler, Nita ...... Manjeet Mann, Ratched ...... Inam Mirza. Directed by Toby Swift. This play has been shortlisted for the Imison Award, Jul 09

PIPER ALPHA* (R3, 2155, 6 Jul 08), by Stephen Phelps, was a drama-doc of the oil rig disaster, which happened 20 years before, to the day. In fact the anniversary was even more exact - it took place 20 years before, to the minute, and the series of explosions which destroyed the oil rig took place over an hour and a half. The events of that evening were played out, in the play, at the same speed as they occurred in real life.

There were about 200 men on board when the disaster took place. About sixty survived, and they all gave their evidence to the Cullen Inquiry. There were some surprising conclusions: most of them only survived by using their commonsense and ignoring the inadequate safety training which they'd had. Rescue vessels were cheaply fitted and poorly equipped. A neighbouring rig was unwittingly pumping in oil and gas to Piper Alpha, fuelling the inferno. Communications (and oil and gas from neighbouring rigs) were mainly routed through Piper Alpha, so once the telephones went down, no-one knew what was happening, and the disaster continued to escalate. The harrowing fate of workers jumping into a burning sea would be gratuitously gruesome but for the fact that it happened.

This excellent play was performed by a distinguished cast including Ewan Bailey, Nigel Betts, Kenny Blyth, Mark Bonnor and Stephen Critchlow; the producer was Toby Swift. ..........ND, VRPCC newsletter, Sept 05

Paul Cotter's DROPPING BOMBS (R4, 1415, 10 Jun 08) followed an ex-RAF pilot travelling to Germany sixty years after the war to apologise for dropping his bombs. But it wasn't a play about fashionable apologies for the necessary actions of a previous generation. It was a first-class comedy, and the humour was in the bickering between the stubborn, selfish, old man and his long-suffering wife, played respectively by Nigel Anthony and Rosemary Leach. Ivan Kaye played the son-in-law Ross, the unpaid chauffer trying to turn his father-in-law into a normal human being. The producer was Toby Swift.

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")

WILD LUNCH*....2003
Wild Lunch, by Katie Hims (R4, 25 Nov 03) was an absurdist comedy: a terribly English, civilised lunch party gradually disintegrates on the day a man is hanged by an unspecified government. Even when the world is falling apart around them, there are those who will cling to the reality which suits them. It starred Claudia Harrison, Ben Miles, Richenda Carey, Ian Masters, Stephen Critchlow, Tracey Wiles and Kenny Blyth; Toby Swift directed. (Katie Hims was the writer in residence at BBC Radio Drama in 2002.)

A Fire in the West*....2003
Very unusual in that it doesn't sound like a play. Some will like it; some won't. You'll be familiar with the experience of turning on the radio and realising immediately you're listening to drama. I switched on halfway through and had to wait until the end credits before realising it wasn't a news feature. The scenario is this- Ciera Thomas (fictional? - RT doesn't say) set herself alight outside the Ministry of Defence, in protest against an arms deal. Three years later, those who knew her talk about her life. Ciera herself is not heard.

Cast: Ken Sharrock, Kate Fitzgerald, Lucy Akhurst, David KS Tse. Producer Toby Swift.

    ........excerpt from essay by Mike Harris on radio drama, 2006:

    ........................ Radio drama is at least as intimate as prose fiction and so direct address of all kinds can be especially effective.

    Michael Butt uses the most apparently simple form of it in A Fire in the West. A mother, father, sister and former boyfriend talk directly to mike as each tries to understand why Ciera burnt herself to death. The style is so intimate and the dialogue so ‘real’ that we wonder if we’re not listening to a documentary. Then, as the testimonies inter-cut and conflict, we slowly realise that this is an artfully constructed drama about the impossibility of ultimately understanding anyone. The technique is similar to a novelist using several narrative voices, but the impact is specifically radio. It brings the emotions and evasions of the characters right inside our heads.

    © Mike Harris; reproduced by permission. First published in The Handbook of Creative Writing edited by Steven Earnshaw, published by Edinburgh University Press, 2007; website at: ......http://www.eup.ed.ac.uk

Compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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