Friday, 14 December 2018

“I am a happily married woman”.

Jenny Seagrove introduces herself as Laura Jesson, a Forties housewife whose routine of the children, shopping and lunches at corner houses is shattered after a chance encounter with a helpful doctor at a train station buffet.

I am a happily married woman”.

Jenny Seagrove introduces herself as Laura Jesson, a Forties housewife whose routine of the children, shopping and lunches at corner houses is shattered after a chance encounter with a helpful doctor at a train station buffet.

As more innocent meet-ups start turning into liasions, Laura and the doctor must decide whether to take the final, irrevocable step; or resolve to part forever and return to their humdrum, passionless lives and partners.

Coward’s classic tear jerker film is recreated as a radio play as part of the celebrations for the 75th anniversary of BBC’s Maida Vale Studios.

Martin Shaw is Dr Alec Harvey, who takes Laura’s elbow while walking, orders champagne at lunchtime and borrows a sports car for a drive in the country.



When he acquires a flat from a friend for the evening, Laura’s daydreams of hand-in-hand strolls in Venice are soured by the seedier reality of an affair - endless lies, sneaking down back stairs and “feeling like a prostitute”.

Martin Shaw’s doctor is strangely flat, selfish and sexless - but this “affair“ is more about Laura’s need to feel her nerves tingle, a desired woman, and to burn with a passion long since doused by kinder and kirche.

The buttoned-up (but desperate to be unbuttoned) Laura practically vibrates with long-repressed nervous and sexual tension as she swings wildly between desire, remorse, elation and confusion, guilt-ridden over lying to her caring-but-distracted, steady, funny husband Fred, likeably played by Simon Shepherd.

The saucy exchanges between Roy Marsden’s bottom-slapping station manager Albert Godby and Sara Crowe’s dragon with a warm heart tea lady, Myrtle Bagot, provide comic relief as they continue their own, more prosaic courtship.

Staging

Encounter
as a radio play also means we get to see the work of the Foley artist, played by Jared Ashe, in the studio, as he crunches through trays of gravel, pops a cork and employs door knockers and whistles to create the audio background to the radio script.

This is a romantic, old-fashioned production, brimming with sepia-toned charm, and the perfect show to see with your Valentine.

Fiona Hannon

Performances run until Saturday, February 21. Box office 01753 85388

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