Chatterton: The Allington Solution

Benedict Cumberbatch“Another maverick, Jeremy Allington (Adrian Scarborough) took the leading role in Peter Ackroyd’s début radio play Chatterton: The Allington Solution. This ingenious quasi-detective thriller had modern academic Allington trying to discover the real cause of the eighteenth century poet Thomas Chatterton’s (Benedict Cumberbatch’s) death. After extensive research, Allington discovered that the poet took his own life by misadventure, after having taken an overdose of arsenic and laudanum while drunk, in an attempt to cure the clap. Ackroyd’s play skilfully oscillated between past and present, showing how Allington’s concern for ‘the truth’ paralleled Chatterton’s search for artistic truth as a poet. There was no such thing as ‘fact’ that could be distinguished from ‘fiction’ – both author and critic were engaged on a similar spiritual quest. Ackroyd’s fiction has been conveniently pigeonholed by academic critics as ‘postmodern;’ on the evidence of this play I would rather see him as preoccupied by the act of writing – what it involves, and how it engages the whole being, both heart and soul. Roy McMillan directed an entertaining production.”

 

– radiodramareviews.com

Continue Reading

Cyrano de Bergarac

Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh

“‘This production uses Anthony Burgess’s fine verse translation of Rostand’s ever-popular play. Cyrano is played by Kenneth Branagh, Roxane by Jodhi May and Christian by Tom Hiddleston. They make the most not only of the passion and poetry and the famously moving conclusion, but also the humour which threads through the play.”

– Radio 3

“At one point Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac is likened to Don Quixote; both of them chase windmills, in the sense that they pursue impossible dreams. This point was clearly underlined in David Timson’s production, as Cyrano (Kenneth Branagh) took a positive pleasure in constructing verbal flights of fancy. Anthony Burgess’s verse translation offered ample opportunity for Branagh to show off his vocal virtuosity; here was an actor who, like the character he played, had the capacity to draw listeners into his world of words and make them believe anything they wished. Branagh’s reading obliterated one’s memories of previous interpretations (for example, Derek Jacobi’s stage performance in the early 80s) by portraying Cyrano as someone believing in the potential for wish-fulfillment. Even though all of us might have certain handicaps, whether physical or emotional, we should make every effort to achieve our aims. Only then can we achieve some form of happiness. The ending of the production – where Cyrano passes away, having finally accomplished his dream of wooing Roxanne (Jodhi May) – was simultaneously poignant yet strangely appropriate. It seemed a shame that he had to die; but at the same time Cyrano had nothing else to live for.”

– radiodramareviews.com

Continue Reading