“We’re happy enough – what more can anyone ask from life?”
Three short reviews for three short radio play this week. My favourite was The Organist’s Daughter by Stephen Wyatt, a genuinely gorgeous piece of drama with a beautiful soundscape and an excellent cast including Simon Russell Beale, Emma Fielding and Naomi Fielding. The story concerns the succession of Lübeck Cathedral’s organist – the incumbent, Dieterich Buxtehude, is in ill health and wishes to retire but the man who follows him must, as tradition dictates, marry his eldest daughter. But Anna Margreta has what people call inner beauty and her rather plain looks leave him despairing, though a series of suitors bring their own surprises with them. Russell Beale is an excellent grouch, Fielding a superbly pragmatic daughter and as the would-be organists, Karl Davies, Joseph Kloska and Matthew Watson are all good fun, the first two wannabes bearing the somewhat familiar names of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel…
Lenny Henry’s reinvention as a proper thespian continues apace with his first radio play, Corrinne Come Back and Gone, a powerful tale of a difficult family reunion in Jamaica. Due to the poverty of their lives, Corrinne was forced to leave her children in the Caribbean as she fled to the UK but twenty years later, she receives a letter from her daughter inviting her back though nothing is quite how she imagines it would be nor how she remembered. It’s an emotive subject but one suffused with hard-headed humour as Claire Benedict’s Corrinne sets about attempting to make amends where she can and trying, and failing, to stop interfering to make things better. A slightly too schematically upbeat ending aside, it’s an impressive debut from Henry, helped by a superb cast including Doña Croll, Nadine Marshall and Alex Lanipekun.
Last but not least was Justin Butcher’s The Patience of Mr Job, a satirical reinterpretation of the biblical story of Job which relocates it to a fictional modern-day West African country. Here, Jude Akuwudike’s Mr Job is a prominent villager who believes utterly in the benevolence of the West, so much so that he obeys every instruction from the World Development Agency, even as it strips the village of its forests, fertility and fortunes. The price for ignoring the warnings of his wife, the lovely Adjoa Andoh, is to endure a whole raft of disasters that strip him of even more, his identity, his colour. It’s a sharp attack on the other side of globalisation and how climate change might affect the world, and entertaining with it.