Tuesday, 19 March 2013

recent dramas

Two things to catch while they're still on bbc iplayer. First is 'The Lady Vanishes', which was a 90 minute drama from Sunday night. A remake of the Hitchcock classic (and the 1979 Hammer neglected gem.) I loved this version, I must say. Yes, it suffers from the usual idiotic contemporary TV cliches and stylistic glitches (GOD I wish they'd never invented HD. I like to *watch* drama - not swim in it.) But there was a lot to love about this. A very good leading lady in Tuppence Middleton, with misapplied lipstick and a snotty attitude that soon turns into twitchy, shrill paranoia. Plus, Tom Hughes made a very beautiful and watchable Max - keen to help and a little out of his depth, yet thoroughly heroic by the end. And some fabulous secondary parts played by Gemma Jones, et al. All of them sinister and rather less cosy than expected. I loved their Mrs Froy, too. One of my favourite characters in fiction, she is - even though she never does much but takes Iris to tea, beadily drops a few hints and spends most of her time tied up in her underwear elsewhere. 

It was stylised, glamorous and silly - and quite the opposite of the brilliant drama I listened to on Sunday night. BBC 3 had 'The Startling Truths of Old World Sparrows' by Fiona Evans. (This will only be available on the bbc website till next saturday, i believe, so do go and find it.) It's a wonderful play, with the voices of three old people mithering on as the snow falls down on their houses. Their words come apparently verbatim from actual people that the author, Fiona Evans and producer Pauline Harris interviewed - and they are collaged into a wonderfully rich pattern. It's all about resilience, recollection and vulnerability - with a gorgeous, chiming score. All the elderly characters are played by child actors and this adds something bizarre and unique to the play. I can't quite say what that is yet. Perhaps it sounds like a new kind of interiority. Perhaps we're hearing how these characters sound inside their own heads - young forever. The youthful voices sound so naturalistic and tough - they are wonderful performances. Just go and listen to it! It's worth a thousand zombie dramas, police procedurals or soap stars on fire. 


  1. Thank you for bringing 'Startling Truths' to my attention. I listened to it last night. Deeply affecting and quite beautiful.

  2. That's great! I'm glad you liked it.