Sunday, August 31, 2008

WorldPlay 2008 - this year's theme, mystery

International Radio drama at its most mysterious. Mysteries from the BBC World Service, Radio New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and the U.S...

CBC Canada: The World According to Charlie D: Long-time Listener/First time caller by Gail Bowen, produced by Kelley Jo Burke. "The brilliant and disfigured late night radio show host Charlie D is a regular in Gail Bowen's best-selling Joanne Kibourn mystery series. In this play, we have Charlie D and his faithful producer Nova, trying to figure out if one of his devoted, demented fans is also a killer..." (Cracking play, perfectly radiogenic.)

BBC World Service: The Black Cat Murder Mystery by Marcy Kahan, prod. Marion Nancarrow. "London 2008. A comic murder mystery set in an apartment block in Fitzrovia: a cosmopolitan neighbourhood a step away from the BBC's famous Broadcasting House. Featuring a corpse in flat 6; a mysterious hermit in flat 12; a cognitive neuroscientist looking for love in flat 3; a Russian businessman in flat 11; a Japanese bassoonist in flat 8; a seductive blonde in flat 5 - and an extremely unusual detective." (I've heard this one and it is absolute rubbish, I'm sorry to say.)

Radio New Zealand National: The Moehau by Gary Henderson, prod. Adam Macaulay. "A young woman hiker lies in a psychiatric hospital, traumatised, babbling in a language she has never learned, and refusing to open her clenched eyes. Has she unwittingly awakened something dark, primitive and unspeakable in the mountains and ravines of the Moehau Range, or did she herself commit an unspeakable crime?" I've heard this one, too, and it has many merits. The production is better than the script with very effective aural evocation of the NZ wilderness in fog and the voice (or is it a voice?) of the Moehau itself, which for those like me who don't know, is the Maori Bigfoot. Like many New Zealand plays, it is let down by the apparently compulsory reverence for "New Zealand's ancient past." This is Henderson's first radio play.

ABC Australia: Concerto for Humans and Semtex by Simon Luckhurst, prod. Anna Messariti. "Four intricately interwoven stories, each featuring a conversation between two people with opposing attitudes who have been affected directly by the aggression, explore the bigger questions of war and terrorism. Reading through each story separately gives the impression that the "war on terror" is a drawn-out, tragic and futile exercise fuelled by hypocrisy, self-interest and hidden agendas."

RTE Ireland: The Sweet Smell of Cigarette Smoke by Julie Parsons, produced and directed by Aidan Matthews. "Smell is the most intimate and secretive of our senses and provides our brains with details of everything that is around us. Memories, both good and bad are retrieved in an instant simply by smell. Meet Miriam - a woman who surrounds herself with scents. Her sense of smell is so important to her, that. she remembers people by the way they smell: she judges people by the way they smell. This play is about the mysteries of intimacy and possession, hatred, jealousy, rejection, hurt and above all - love."

The US entry is LA Theatrework's production of David Mamet's The Shawl (1985), directed by Mark Ward. "An amateur physic and his protege mount an elaborate scheme to defraud a young woman of her inheritance. However, their seance to contact the girl's recently deceased mother takes an unexpected turn."