“I have to write an essay on Shakespeare’s view of the family, it’s a bugger”
Denmark Hill is something of a rarity, a 30 year old Alan Bennett television play that never saw the light of day and so remained unproduced until this radio version brought it back to life. A suburban riff on Hamlet which sets it in a contemporary South London, it’s more of an interesting curio than an essential addition to the Bennett canon but it still has many points of interest. A nifty turn of phrase when it comes to a joke, the often ridiculous behaviour of human beings at times of crisis, and a top-notch cast that includes Penny Downie’s Gwen, her new lover George played by Robert Glenister and her angst-ridden son Charles, the ever-lovely Samuel Barnett.
Sadly not a dramatisation of the Ocean Colour Scene song, Nick Payne’s The Day We Caught The Train is a predictably lovely piece of writing from one of our most reliable new writers. Olivia Colman’s Sally is a GP mourning the recent death of her mother, trying hard not to let being a single mother rule her life even if the fact is she hasn’t had sex for a year. We join her on a regular day full of mini-dramas which seem designed to keep her from something special, a date with Ralph Ineson’s kindly David. Naturally, it doesn’t quite go to plan but the way it unfolds into something beautifully moving is skilfully done indeed.
I was less impressed with Charlotte Bogoard Macleod’s Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – an episodic smash through the tumultuous relationship between statistician Liam and photographer Sadie who meet-cute in a cycling accident and are drawn together despite themselves. As we fast-forward through marriage, trying for a baby and the subsequent move into surrogacy, the challenges they face are played out interestingly by Andrew Scott and Jeany Spark but never really caught me up into fully believing in their world. The play is still available to download here for you to make up your own mind.