Kate Adshead, 'Hanging', 20-9-2002, Friday Play 1', BBC Radio 4

'Radio Times' billing
In a wood by a railway line a man is found hanging from a tree. Three very different women, all left hanging by an unresolved relationship in their lives, claim him as their own. A haunting play that explores first sexual feelings and their confusing long-term consequences, the inability to let go of love and the struggle for atonement and resolution.

Catherine Bayley Production for B.B.C. R 4

Old Woman - lady's maid - Addie Small - (another actress) = 21 yr old son
Margery Mason
Middle-aged woman - Annie Smart
Suzanne Bertish
Young woman - northern accent - Annie Sharp - as Young girl - man as brother (Patrick)
Emily Aston
Little Annie Sharp - Chelsea Corrigan
The Hanging Man - Darren Tighe
Saxophone music by andy Sheppard
Director - Lisa Goldman

Man = 3 variants


Music - wind instrument - saxophone

A man with no distinguishing features was found hanging, at a spot notorious for courting couples.


the hanging man …. is mine

Everyone know the hanging oak in waiting wood

Man and young woman


Has no one touched you there before - have you touched yourself.

advance soldier - WW1? WW2?
eyeball to eyeball with the Kraut … advance
we shared a look, poor brothers, workers' hands, the way to change to world
the Russkies got it right, start with the Royal Family

Come away with me
Let's hop on and find ourself a new start
Power to the people

Old woman: I could be ready for the Revolution in a twinkling

Old woman waiting at the Giant Oak
I thought about my uniforms in the chambermaid's closet

the altar where lovers carved their initials

come up, come up, to meet the cardinal moon
and the ecstatic hour passed
[Robbie does not appear while chambermaid waits]

Never late, never, not in a month of moonlight nights
But that was before the revolution
an accident? a fall?

the foxes came and glowered, they wanted to cock their legs against the tree

and at last came the sun
I can't go back… I'll stay here, under the Giant Oak very quietly, and try to die



I waited another night, the moon was big and bright
stripped naked, dancing the fandango

The Big House
The last scullerymaid came to a sticky end

No more kisses, only you Robbie

(cries) Why, why say to run away, he could have had me anyway?

And hung myself

FX: phone modern


Nicely turned out, this season's hair
briefcase, a present, the obligatory laptop

husband in finance
2 daughters - Rosalind and Roxanne

Annie Smart
a local council star, singled out by party top brass for a future

don't look down, try not to, from the window, don't look, don't look
I first saw the hanging man twelve years ago
he'd have been 21 then, my son
it was his birthday

[running to waiting wood - about to give birth]

turning the radio up to vomit
they're laughing, never realising
out of the dark, out of the bed, never realising

a boy in a red jumper who smelt of soap, told off for giggling
knees up and push
the smell, damp and female
sweating, grunting and grinning, old instincts
then a cry I can't control .. a bloody bulge between my legs becomes a head
a tiny body between my legs
a bloody sticky mess
then in a sudden moonbeam, on a bed of rotting oak leaves .. a boy
stone seconds seem like hours
I cut the umbilical cord with the kitchen scissors as practised
find the nearest bush .. and push the baby in, so it is hidden from all eyes
I called him David, my David, then slowly turn away.

FX: thunder
I run away, run away from the cry
At last, the house, I'm back to my old life, before secrets

The cry
The bloody scissors
mop between my legs, the torrent washed away
the strange smell, the pool of water on the floor
the bloody pyjama jacket for the bin
trousers for the next few days
won't wash from my head - that cry!

[phone call]
do we need a reason
a perfect life
what happened? no baby found
not in the local paper
months pass, years, and I hear the cry often
on a beach, at the end of a long drive, or at night, after love
but the years become years and years, and you think, did it really happen, and then the noose around my heart, am I a murderess or worse, a mother who killed her own child, a monster?
what happened in the minutes after I ran

Young woman

Who is your girlfriend, Patrick?


Annie sees Patrick with a man at the oak
I told them I had seen Patrick with the bogey man, I told them what they had done under the tree, I told them - everything.

Gone, said Granny, one bad-tempered Sunday, and it's all your fault.


All three woman - as Prologue

The town mortuary

my lover, my son, my brother


monologue of the man - mother

I thought telling would save you … I didn't know there is no bogey man

a sapling grew from under the casket
until the great hall was a forest
and with the trees came the birds
the air was full of birdsong
and from the casket sprang the tallest, straightest tree, a giant oak

the hanging man
there are two
his shadow, his ghost

I can climb the hanging oak

she takes off her fur coat

now - cut him down

she looks funny without her coat

she looks young

she smoothes back the hanging man's hair

the old woman puts her hand inside his shirt
the same sweet smile

then the yougn girl kneels
buries her soft head in his chest

how firm and hard he feels
how soft and sweet
I can count his eyelashes
he smells of warm peat
still the same elephant feet

lying there on the bed of rotting oak leaves

three black crows, watching - Shoo!

Mortuary man: You recognise the man
No! No! No!

Not my lover
Not my son
Not my brother


I will find my baby, my precious son and bury him, lay him to rest

I won't give up till I find him

Outside the wind has changed

I wonder who he was - the hanging man?

Playing the sax, I was good at …….. The other stuff, love and life, I was never very good at. the usual stuff .. loved and lost , I was never very good at, the usual tell







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