Radio Review: Time and the Conways / Jailbird Lover / The Benefit of Time

“You don’t know what day it is today”

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to any radio drama but the prospect of an all star cast doing JB Priestley’s Time and the Conways was something I couldn’t resist and under David Hunter’s direction, it was a truly beautiful piece of work. The aching lyricism of the play and its innovative (extremely so for the time) non-linear structure have long been a favourite and so to see them get the luxury treatment here, headed up by Harriet Walter as Mrs Conway, is just fantastic.

The play looks at the fortunes of the Conway family as they celebrate the 21st birthday of one of the daughters Kay in 1919 and then flicks forward 19 years where we see straightaway what has become of them. And as their lot mirrors that of the class system in Britain, it isn’t a happy one. Walter’s brittle blitheness as she tries to ignore the financial situation is blissful, Anna Madeley and Rupert Evans are just gorgeous as Alan and Kay – the two decent ones out of the whole bunch – and Colin Guthrie’s piano adds an elegiac beauty. Sublime.

Craig Hawes’ Jailbird Lover made for quite the change in pace, a ditzy comedy about Gwilym, a confirmed bachelor who lives a hermit-like existence in a Welsh village, venturing out only to the postbox to send love letters to female convicts across the globe, safe in the knowledge that their long sentences mean he’d never actually have to ever meet them. So sure enough, one turns up on his doorstep – Claire-Louise Cordwell’s Layla – and his life is turned upside down. It’s all rather charmingly done, Charles Dale is a goofy hero, and it all makes some decent entertainment.

And equally amusing was Terri-Ann Brumby’s The Benefit of Time featuring a class duo – Samantha Spiro and Adrian Scarborough – as a dowdy office worker and an unscrupulous hypnotist respectively who are taken by surprise when a session together reveals that she was Anne Boleyn in a former life. It has the potential to be daft as a brush but Brumby keeps things on an intriguing level – at first it seems obvious that he is taking her for a ride but increasingly, it feels like she who is milking the situation as her personal and professional life take an unprecedented turn for the better. In the end, well you’ll find out for yourself, but with these two having great fun with a fun script, it’s a pleasure to listen to.

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