Not Just for Christmas. By Roddy Doyle. It was always Danny and Jimmy, Jimmy and Danny. They were blood brothers, inseparable, them against the world – until the one big row that drove them apart. Now twenty years on Jimmy is on the phone, he wants to meet. Jimmy wants to make his peace with his estranged brother, even if it involves a little white lie or two…
Regarded as one of Ireland’s most influential contemporary writers Roddy Doyle shot to fame with his novels The Commitments, The Van, (Booker shortlisted) and The Snapper. These were closely followed by his novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha which won the Booker. As well as his numerous best-selling novels, he has written for both television and film including When Brendan Met Trudy and the Oscar nominated short film New Boy.
The Snapper. By Roddy Doyle. Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown is humming with speculation. Sharon Rabbitte is pregnant. Only she knows the father of her ‘snapper’. But she’s not telling
The Van. By Roddy Doyle. Jimmy Rabbitte is unemployed and at an all-time low. Even Ireland qualifying for the 1990 World Cup has not pulled him out of the doldrums, he needs money and fast. So when his best mate Bimbo buys a dilapidated “chipper” van and offers him the chance of a partnership, this might well be the opportunity Jimmy has been waiting for. What could be better than working with your best mate?
The Commitments. By Roddy Doyle. Jimmy Rabbite is on a mission – he wants to spread the gospel of soul to Dublin. Barrytown is about to become Motown as Jimmy decides to put a band together.
The Guts. By Roddy Doyle. Twenty six years on and we are back in Dublin with Jimmy Rabbitte, the ex-manager of The Commitments. Jimmy is now 47, married to Aoife and has 4 kids. Life has been rather good since we last met him, keeping a foot in the music industry and doing well during the boom. However, life is about to change for them all as Jimmy has just discovered he is ill. This is a story about friendship and family, about facing death and opting for life and maybe, just maybe, realising you can still live the dream.
The Boy at the Back. By Juan Mayorga. A psychological drama from one of Spain’s most renowned contemporary writers, which recently won a BBC Audio Drama Award for Best Use of Sound. When 17-year-old Claudio insinuates himself into a classmate’s house and begins to write about it as homework, his literary voyeurism soon spirals out of control. Faced with this gifted and unusual pupil, class teacher German is reminded of his own abandoned literary pretensions. Despite his wife’s misgivings, he encourages Claudio’s artistic ambitions. However, the boy’s incursion into the domestic intimacy of his subjects will have unpredictable consequences for both households. An exploration of the voyeuristic nature of fiction, the exercise of power and the ambiguity at the heart of human relations.
Wild Things. By Charlotte Jones. Five very different women’s paths cross at a wild swimming club.
Largo Desolato. By Vaclav Havel. Theatre critic Michael Billington introduces a classic play from the archives by Czech playwright and President, Vaclav Havel, to mark Havel’s death in December last year. When the death of the former President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel was announced last year, Europe lost one of its great dissident voices. From the 1960s to the 1980s, BBC radio broadcast many new productions of Havel’s plays – plays that were usually banned in his then-Communist homeland because of the way they mocked and interrogated the absurd nature of totalitarian rule.
Angela – 7 Days to Save Europe. By Hugh Costello. Following the nominations for France’s Presidential elections, Europe’s political mainstream has been rocked by the rising popularity of Marine Le Pen’s far right, Front National. Hugh Costello’s play imagines a political pact forged between French Republicans and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, aimed at limiting Le Pen’s ascendency and preserving the European Union. But as with all pacts there is more politicking than there first appears. Whilst preservation of the Union is high on the agenda, it’s the survival of Angela Merkel in Germany’s forthcoming elections which is the real goal of our key player, Heike Menzel.
Deceit Desire and the Viking Helmet. By John Hegley. A surreal and tragi-comic love story by poet and comedian John Hegley, packed with original songs and poems. John stars with Graham Fellowes, sometimes better known as his alter-ego John Shuttleworth. A musical and lyrical treat, inspired by an Anthony Thwaite poem.
Fairytale of New Malden. By Katherine Jakeways. Cathy’s barely seen her dad George since her mum died. She suspects his grandkids may have forgotten who he is. But now she’s persuaded him to dress up as Santa for the school’s Christmas fair and finally they have an opportunity to talk.
The Birthday Party. By Harold Pinter. Stanley, an erstwhile pianist lives in a dingy seaside boarding house run by Meg and Petey. He is comfortable there, like a surrogate son. Two sinister strangers turn up – Goldberg and McCann. They claim to know him from the past. They turn Stanley’s birthday party into a menacing and terrifying encounter.
The Home and the World. By Rabindranath Tagore. Tanika Gupta updates Rabindranath Tagore’s classic novel to a contemporary British Muslim context. Nusrat arrives in the UK from Pakistan to marry Nabeel, a wealthy, progressive and educated businessman. Fearful of the wider society, Nusrat locks herself away in the house reading newspaper articles that only serve to heighten her concerns. Nabeel encourages Nusrat to broaden her horizons and to enter the outer world as he believes that only then will they know if their love is true. When, at Nabeel’s insistence, Nusrat attends a public meeting led by Nabeel’s university friend Sultan, a charismatic leader of a charity that Nabeel funds, Nusrat’s eyes are opened to the potential for action and change.
Of all the works of Aeschylus the strongest in dramatic force is the Oresteia, a series consisting of the Agamemnon, the Choëphoræ (or Libation Bearers) and the Eumenides, the only one of his trilogies that has come down to us. It was probably the last that he exhibited at Athens, and upon it he seems to have lavished all the splendors of his genius, that he might leave to his fellow citizens something worthy of his country and himself. Says William von Humboldt of the Agamemnon, and his remarks might be applied to the entire trilogy: “Among all the products of the Greek stage none can compare with it in tragic power; no other play shows the same intensity and pureness of belief in the divine and good; none can surpass the lessons it teaches, and the wisdom of which it is the mouthpiece.”
1-3 Agamemnon. By Aeschylus. A new version by Simon Scardifield. The first of the three plays in Aeschylus’s classic trilogy about murder, revenge and justice. Agamemnon returns home to Argos after his victory at Troy. But his wife Clytemnestra has determined to take terrible revenge for his sacrifice of their eldest daughter Iphigenia.
2-3 The Libation Bearers. By Aeschylus. A new version by Ed Hime. The second play in Aeschylus’s classic trilogy about murder, revenge and justice. Agamemnon’s son Orestes returns home from exile to kill his mother in revenge for his father’s murder. But where can he find the strength to carry out such a terrible deed?
3-3 The Furies. A new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. The final play in Aeschylus’s classic trilogy about murder, revenge and justice. Orestes has avenged his father Agamemnon by murdering his killer, his own mother Clytemnestra. Now the Furies, deities of revenge, are on his trail and baying for blood. Can the young gods Apollo and Athena stop this cycle of revenge?
More Greco Roman dramas here.
The Clintons. By Jonathan Myerson. Three dramas that imagine key moments in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s lives together, closely based on the published accounts and opinions of those who have witnessed their enduring partnership.
Heck Dont Vote for Him. 1991, and the barely-known Governor of Arkansas is beginning to get some traction in the Democratic Presidential Primaries. Bill Clinton, son of a travelling salesman, wants the nomination to take on incumbent President George H W Bush, popular victor of the First Gulf War. Then the story of Gennifer Flowers surfaces: she claims she had a twelve-year affair with Bill. It is dragging down his campaign. But ever since they met at Yale, Bill’s talented wife Hillary has been his most fervent supporter, and on her advice, they come out fighting. In a special interview broadcast straight after the Super Bowl, picking up its audience of one hundred million, she puts both their careers on the line. ‘Heck, Don’t Vote For Him’ explores the beginnings of a complex and fascinating relationship which has helped shape both Clintons’ careers.
The Coup. 1995, and President Bill Clinton’s business dealings in the failed Whitewater property scheme are under investigation by the Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr. When Susan McDougal, one of the partners in the scheme, is asked to implicate the Clintons in return for her own immunity, she refuses to lie. 1998, and the Independent Counsel is running out of time. When he receives tapes of an interview with an intern called Monica Lewinsky, the investigation takes a new turn to indict the President for perjury.
The Man Scale. 2008, and Hillary Clinton is running for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. A long-heralded, well-organised and well-funded candidate, the figures are all going her way, until a charismatic young Senator from Illinois starts to attract attention. And as the race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton goes down to the wire, is Bill’s role in her campaign becoming a problem? Hillary’s decision to fight on, or withdraw, is somehow being weighed in ‘The Man Scale’…
The Ferryhill Philosophers. By Michael Chaplin. A rather unlikely duo, they come from two very different worlds, albeit only seven miles apart – Joe Snowball, unemployed ex-miner in a village forgotten by the world, and the Hon. Hermione Pink, slightly disenchanted senior lecturer at the third oldest university in England, an ivory tower almost encircled by the River Wear. Together, they wrestle with the collision between moral philosophy and the sundry dilemmas encountered by the not-always-good people of Ferryhill, deprived of jobs, opportunities and the kind of ethical guidance once offered by the Methodist Church and the National Union of Mineworkers. Should a man bent on suicide be stopped – or allowed to do as he wishes? Should one always tell the truth even if it has bad consequences? The philosophy is thought provoking, the unlikely partnership is intriguing, and the world of Ferryhill is a humorous, engaging and sometimes challenging place to visit.
White Face. (R) By Edgar Wallace. Crime reporter Michael Quigley’s evening is ruined when a mysterious master criminal chooses his nightclub to carry out his latest escapade. Who is White Face? The “Devil of Tidal Basin” – they called him. Out of the slums and filth of London slunk this marauder, dealing death and striking terror into all hearts and confounding the clearest brains of Scotland Yard. All the ingredients of a great mystery are here – a beautiful young girl, a handsome and romantic stranger from South Africa; a keen crime-reporter from London’s Fleet Street in love with the girl; the dull witted inspector of Police countered by the brilliant Superintendent from Scotland Yard. It’s a hunt to expose an arch blackmailer – bent on destroying the lives of his victims…..
More Edgar Wallace on Drama Page – The Short Story Page.
The Blind Barber. By John Dickson Carr. There is only one clue to a brutal killing on an ocean liner – the engraving on the murder weapon. thriller starring Donald Sinden as Dr Gideon Fell, John Hartley as Superintendent Hadley and Patrick Allen as Lord Sturton. Amateur sleuth, Dr Gideon Fell is an archetypal English eccentric created by American-born John Dickson Carr.
Gudrun’s Saga. By Lucy Catherine. Gudrun, a young woman in 11th century Iceland, must forge her path through a world of unearthly beauty yet uncompromising harshness. A new re-telling of classic Icelanders’ saga.
My Purple Scented Novel. (R) By Ian McEwan. A tale of two writers – one of whom commits literary theft from his friend. Will he confess?
Saturday. (R) By Ian McEwan. Alison Joseph’s dramatisation of the novel describing a day in the life of surgeon Henry Perowne.
Jezebel. By Irene Nemirovsky. Drama set in 1900s France adapted from Irene Nemirovsky’s novella about Gladys Eysenach, an older woman so obsessed with her lost youth, she will stop at nothing, including murder.
The Bribery Warehouse. By Kelvin Segger. 1835 election fever in Ipswich. True story of George Cunnold’s brave stand against political corruption.
The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains. (R) By Neil Gaiman. Chilling revenge for a terrible crime is at the heart of Neil Gaiman’s multi-award-winning novelette, inspired by a Hebridean myth and originally commissioned by the Sydney Opera House for the Graphic Festival with celebrated illustrator Eddie Campbell.
The Guide. By R. K. Narayan. Formerly India’s most corrupt tourist guide, Raju—just released from prison—seeks refuge in an abandoned temple. Mistaken for a holy man, he plays the part and succeeds so well that God himself intervenes to put Raju’s newfound sanctity to the test. Narayan’s most celebrated novel, The Guide won him the National Prize of the Indian Literary Academy, his country’s highest literary honour.
More R. K. Narayan on Drama Page – The Short Story Page.
The Vortex. By Noel Coward. Coward explores the darker side of the Cocktail Party set. Emotional blackmail, drug abuse and shattered relationships are minutely observed in this disturbing, early piece from a playwright whose sharp eye was more usually turned towards the light.
Private Lives. By Noel Coward. Private Lives. By Noel Coward. A comedy about a divorced couple, Amanda and Elyot, who meet again on their second honeymoons.
A Song at Twilight. By Noel Coward. This bittersweet comedy is the story of a cosmopolitan author caught in his declining years between two women, one being his wife of convenience for twenty years, the other, one of his former loves. There is a bit of the detective story in this, too, for the former flame produces some old love letters which she is about to turn over to a biographer. He is dead set against it, for it would compromise his impeccable reputation until she produces still another set of love letters, even more damaging, written to a male friend of his early youth. It remains for the wife of convenience to say that she has known about this all along, and to send the old flame off with an entirely different opinion.
Nude With Violin. By Noel Coward. Brilliant painter Paul Sorodin dies; indecently close to death’s heels come Sorodin’s relatives, his business manager and others who, their grief not entirely untinged with greed, anxiously await the reading of the will. Sebastian, valet and companion extraordinary to Sorodin, steps in with some jolting surprises for the mourners. One jolt makes it clear Sorodin was not all he had seemed. Also on hand with revelations of their own are an eccentric Russian Princess, an ex-show girl, an Eleventh Hour Immersionist and a mute but effective gentleman named Fabrice. Before they get through, reputations are arranged and rearranged.
The Better Half. By Noel Coward. This delicious comedy of marital disharmony was written when its young author, Noel Coward, was 22 years old. Rediscovered after nearly 90 years, the play was originally considered too ‘racy’ for public performance, since it deals – in part – with the subject of female sexual desire. ‘The Better Half’ is a devastatingly accomplished relationship comedy, focusing on a husband, wife and her best friend. In an unusual psychological ploy the unhappy wife encourages the husband to leave her to pursue a happier connection with her friend. But the wife’s apparent selflessness may conceal a hidden agenda. Even now the play is surprisingly unconventional, cannily perceptive – and funny. The author himself makes an unexpected appearance as a typically witty musical narrator.
Brother Dusty Feet. By Rosemary Sutcliff. Set in the days of the first Queen Elizabeth, Rosemary Sutcliff’s children’s novel, written in 1952, has more than a touch of ‘lashings of ginger beer’ and Wizard of Oz innocence about it. Young Hugh, an orphan, is bound for the dreaming spires of Oxford, with only his beloved dog and the stars for company, when he meets a kindly band of travelling players, and joins them on a series of adventures and derring-do. Shaun McKenna’s adaptation is full of fanciful myths, legends and encounters with historical heroes. The whole family will be eager to find out if young Hugh finds his rainbow, somewhere along the dusty roads of southern England.
Freedoms Daughter. By Rukhsana Ahmad. The touching correspondence between the young Indira Gandhi and her father Nehru.
Von Ribbentrop’s Watch. By Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran. Wine shop owner Gerald desperately needs money: his business is failing and the landlord has raised the cost of the lease. When he inherits a watch that used to belong to wartime Nazi Joachim Von Ribbentrop he believes that his financial troubles are over. But it sparks conflict with his wife and brother, who question the ethics of the potential sale.
Secrets of the Small Hours. By Nick Dear. A married couple confront each other for the first time, a year after the husband attempted to have his wife murdered. Justin, has taken out a contract to have his estranged wife, Melissa, murdered. Unfortunately, he manages to hire an undercover detective as his hit-man. Melissa escapes unharmed, but the case never comes to trial, as the policeman is implicated in a corruption enquiry. A year later, Melissa appears at Justin’s door. She wants – for important personal reasons – to forgive him. But first he has to admit his murderous intentions towards her, which he has denied all along. They face off, in the wake of all that has gone before.
South Downs. By David Hare. The much acclaimed Chichester Festival production of David Hare’s play is brought to radio. Set in the 60s in Lancing College, Sussex, where the author went to school. A pin sharp young pupil is cut off from his fellow boys by virtue of his own intellect, background and questioning spirit. The school, with its unyielding and rigid outlook on life, leaves the boy isolated and confused. In an unlikely meeting with the free-spirited mother of another pupil her generosity and sound advice offers the boy a world of kindness and possibility.
The Air Gap. By Steve Waters. “Hypothetical question: if you had free rein over classified networks for long periods of time, say 8-9 months, and you saw incredible things, awful things, things that belonged in the public domain, not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC, what would you do?” – Bradley Manning, from an unverified chat log with a hacker. “Air gap” is the term for the separation between the civilian internet and the military and diplomatic computer network. In April 2010 this air gap was breached, leading to the biggest information leak in history.
One month later Bradley Manning, a soldier in the US Army, was arrested and accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks. He was taken to the military prison at Quantico, Virginia, held in solitary confinement for ten months and, his lawyers argue, subjected to cruel and unusual treatment. Manning was held for almost three years before his case came to trial and he subsequently received a 35 year prison sentence. This factually-based drama combines dramatised accounts of Bradley Manning’s experiences with imagined conversations and characters. It takes place in Quantico and the operating base near Baghdad where Manning was stationed leading up to his arrest. It’s here he sees the war on terror documented in action reports and in video material, including the now infamous “collateral murder” video. Since this drama was first broadcast Manning has announced an intended gender transition and change of name. She is now Chelsea Manning.
The Boy from Aleppo Who Painted the War. By Sumia Sukkar. Farshid Rokey, Noof Ousellam and Jalleh Alizadeh lead an outstanding young cast in this heart-rending drama, based on the moving debut novel by Sumia Sukkar. ‘The Boy from Aleppo who Painted the War’ presents the Syrian conflict through the eyes of Adam, a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome, who can only speak the truth. As the war creeps ever closer to home, it devastates and disrupts the life of his family. Struggling to make sense of the conflict, as he and his family try to survive in an impossibly brutal world, Adam paints as a way to record and cope with the horrors he witnesses.
His older brothers face the dilemma of whether to take sides – and the consequences of their choices have repercussions for the entire family. But can they make it to safety as the conflict in Aleppo rages all around them? The immediacy and impact of this drama bear witness to the horrors of war, its effect upon the innocent, and the triumph of the human spirit over almost unbearable adversity.
White Snow. By Frances Byrnes. Faced with an upstart stepdaughter and lied to by her King about the real object of his affection, his unnaturally perfect daughter, the Queen is forced into decisive and deadly action. In this re-imagining of the Grimm brother’s fairy-tale, we find ourselves at one with a fun loving and light hearted Queen, who having been wooed by an emotionally arrested king, soon finds that her main rival is his somewhat spooky and unhealthily translucent daughter, Snow White. It isn’t clear what hold this eerily passive child has over the King but the implication is that the trauma of being cuckolded by his first wife, has been transformed into the myth of a flawless child – a child who keenly aware of her power over him, determines that nothing, especially not a mere stepmother is going to come between them. By any reasonable assessment of the situation, Snow White has to die… but will she?
Days Without End. (R) By Sebastian Barry. The tumultuous period in US history as seen through teenage Cavalry recruits in the 1850s, taking in the Indian Wars and the US Civil war.
Only the Good Die Young. By Shaun Prendergast. Computer programmer Mike proposes to his girlfriend, but on the wedding day he dresses up in ladies underwear and drives into a tree.
The Apple Orchard. By Pete Brown. Symbolically and nutritionally, the apple has played a significant role in human life for millennia. From its origins in Kazakhstan, its spread along the old spice roads and into mythology, it is now an all-year round supermarket staple. In this abridgement of his new book, Pete Brown follows the cycle of an orchard’s year to illuminate the hand-in-hand-history of humanity and our most familiar fruit. Along the way, he turns his hand to the three most labour-intensive jobs in the orchard: grafting, picking and pruning.