Review: The Jinx Element, Radio 4

Having loved the adaptation of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome that I listened to last week, my anticipation for The Jinx Element was quite high and that’s always a dangerous place to be. Sadly, my expectations weren’t really met by this radio play by Stephen Wakelam which told the story of Wharton’s affair with younger journalist Morton Fullerton, this being (part of at least) the inspiration for the story behind Ethan Frome. Told through the eyes of her friend Henry James, we see the impact of the liaison on the 47 year-old Wharton, on her stale marriage to Teddy Wharton and the creative impulses that it released in her.

But for whatever reason, it just didn’t click with me. In truth, it came across as a rather dull effort to me – the narrative device is one which I’m never sure about as it does mean that there’s a lot of reportage rather than action and it’s not always the most entertaining. It was nice to hear Fenella Woolgar as Wharton again though her performance was a little too restrained for my liking, and the same went for Patrick Baladi’s Morton and Allan Corduner’s Henry James – just too much reserve all around.

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