Doug Lucie, 'Small Earthquake', 3-5-2002, Friday Play 1', pr Janet Whitaker
The opening credits - 'Two views of a divorce, where the same words can be loaded in different ways'.

Jenny (wife) - Leah Williams
Carl (husband) - David Morrissey
Mike (marriage counsellor) - Gerard McDermott

Doubled scenes:
COLLECTING JENNY IN THE CAR
IN BED
CARL ARRIVES BACK AFTER DOUBLE MURDER
THREE WEEKS AFTER MISCARRIAGE
JENNY DRESSING FOR DINNER AT QUAGLINO'S

This is a tragedy of domestic realism. In scenes between husband and wife, and each with the counsellor, we listen to the breakdown of a marriage. There are five scenes, and remarkably, these crucial scenes are repeated - and each is a different recording, each directed with subtle differences, nuances and contrasting emphases. Listen out for these. It is also a study in directing and radio acting. You revisit each scene, now with ironic knowledge in detail from your memory, of the dialogue, and the progress of this scene. The same words can be loaded in different ways. All spirals downwards. You experience time in a different way - through recollection and false (?) recollection. It is a shock to experience, in the moment-to-moment of listening, the very form of radio drama. We get to the very form of radio drama that is centred on dialogue. We live in the onward, linear, being-in-the-moment of radio drama dialogue.
This breaks free of - and does not - the 'nowness' of radio.

This repeating of nearly-the-same scenes also defies our common sense of realism. The words are the same, and yet the nuances and emphases are different. This is an exercise in the actor's subtext - how the same dialogue can signify so differently in different versions of the scene. It is a process (rehearsal) exercise - and here is it brought into the product - the final radio drama.

The opening credits - 'Two views of a divorce, where the same words can be loaded in different ways' - does not give us much of a clue as to what is going to happen. So that the first time a scene is repeated, this comes as a shock - surprising, then entertaining, and then the tragic significance of this strikes us. What was the truth of the marriage? What are the truth of traumatic, guilty, blame-ful memories, when a couple are going through parting and divorce? When a detail or a word can be loaded with terrible significance?

Mike (marriage counsellor) - Gerard McDermott is curiously close to Carl (husband) - David Morrissey in dialect (Mike is soft Liverpool), same deeper pitch. There is a danger of clustering?

Scene 1
Carl at counselling
Carl - speaking to whom? Acoustic of small room
'At the wedding, I remember sitting at the top table, a bit lost to be honest. Not my scene - frock coats'
'Only about 40% were married'
Other male voice: 'That's a strange thought to be having on your wedding day'
Who is this other male? Asking questions - so that
'Well I wouldn't know. You'd have to ask Jennifer that'.

Scene 2 COLLECTING JENNY IN THE CAR
Car FX car arriving, horn peep, we are in car with Carl and Jenny gets in.
'You're late.'
'Yea. Sorry I got held up.'
First mention of Tim Robbins - in charge of staff of fifty. Jenny asked to go for interview for job with him.
'I'd appreciate the freedom it would give me…. plus the odd overnight trip.'
FX atmos of police car passing as the argument hots up.
'Everything we agreed - all our plans - go up in smoke?'
'You don't want to accept that my job can be as important as your's.'
'Are you telling me that your job is more important to you than having a family'.
'You get on with the more important business of having a career.
'You're such a child.'

Scene 3
Jenny - we now recognise that this is the same atmos as Scene 1, and we realise that we are in time present - a series of marriage counselling talks.
'I'm talking about normal people.'
'Many people prefer individual counselling.'
Divorce - a challenge - get it sorted, get through it, get over it.'

Scene 4 COLLECTING JENNY IN THE CAR
(REPEAT) FX car arriving, beep (louder than last time)
'You're late.'
'Yea. Sorry I got held up.'
We now realise that we are in a different version of the dialogue of scene 2. This is a shock!
Jenny younger sounding and more exhausted. Less assertive at first. Excited. 'Didn't everyone?' from Jenny sounds seductive to her husband. This is a loving couple?
'I like doing this' (Carl) - suddenly sounds more aggressive.
'I thought you liked it where you are'
FX atmos of police car passing as the argument hots up.
Jenny more placating. 'I'm twenty nine' - not so bitter, still reasoning. Carl more dominating and louder. Jenny does not respond to him in emotion - still reasons.
(Jenny) 'And get some - FX (car door slams - angry Carl) - prawn crackers' (Jenny to herself - disappointed)

Scene 5
Jenny - counselling
'I never took account of how much Carl's father dying affected him'.
We now hear about Carl's depression and its possible cause.
'As if he was in shock … like a small child who has just lost a parent, perhaps?'.

Scene 6 IN BED
Jenny and Carl in bed - unsuccessful attempt at sex by Carl
realism of being in bed, FX bedclothes
(Jenny) 'Seriously, you do still fancy me, don't you?'
(Carl) 'When we have sex, it's not totally what I want'
(Jenny) 'old mister badger… so something must be wrong somewhere'
(Jenny) 'what a totally insensitive thing to say'
(Jenny) 'there's nothing more ridiculous than arguing in the nude'
massage
(Carl) 'I wish I was artistic. I wish I could paint you or write a poem about you.'
(Jenny) 'Carl … what are you doing? Move your hand, please, move it now. And true to form, I see old mister badger's woken up….We talked about this months ago …. I said I didn't want it … not doing something unnatural.. and bloody painful…And let me see. You went round Terry's on Tuesday .. I suppose he got out his mucky films… like it's your conjugal right … if you force your sexual partner to do something they don't want, it's rape, even your wife. Especially your wife'.

Scene 7
Carl - counselling
'Burly six-foot ex-copper'
'I wasn't a cave man. I was a cave in. I was scared she'd leave me…. which in the end she did'.

Scene 8 IN BED
(REPEAT) Jenny and Carl in bed - unsuccessful attempt at sex by Carl
repeat of scene 6 with different nuances
Jenny more aggressive? Carl more worried and breathy, and apologetic?
Carl much more defeated in talking about soccer.

Scene 9
Jenny - counselling
'I really love my job. Best thing I ever did, moving'
'I kept us afloat for three years'.
'I simply didn't have time for talking'.
'Did you ever tell him about your affair with Tim?'
'I couldn't hurt him like that - be like pulling the stuffing out of your favourite teddy bear'

Scene 10 CARL ARRIVES BACK AFTER DOUBLE MURDER
Jenny on phone to her mother - staff dinner that evening
Carl arrives - no response until he opens tin in front of TV
atmos of TV programme - music - pop song 'What's going on'
double murder - baby boy - Geoff and Carl involved
(Carl) 'I can't go on like this. I need some peace. I really would like to be on my own.'
Carl suddenly bursts out in anger. 'It's the job - the rotten job'.
Jenny supportive 'Don't be silly….You're just over-sensitive … it's like you're wallowing in it sometimes … I'm saying that you should deal with it …get some help ... talk to someone … make a list of all the positive things you could do if you left the force ..make a plan of how you are going to achieve your goal… be positive …. hey! love you'

Scene 11
Carl - counselling
'Yea - I did five years on the force'.
'Great British public … they don't do reasonable … and if you try talking to them, you're in their way'
(counsellor) 'You've stored it up, all that anger and fear'
'We were very close and in love, but I still felt very lonely'.

Scene 12 CARL ARRIVES BACK AFTER DOUBLE MURDER
(REPEAT) Jenny on phone to her mother - staff dinner that evening
Carl arrives - no response until he opens tin in front of TV - pop song 'What's going on'
This time we are with Carl as he comes through the door, and approaches Jenny on phone.
Jenny a bit further off and in more echoey acoustic. The difference between them emphasised that she does not approach him into his acoustic.
Carl tearful and subdued and defeated
Jenny does not sound sympathetic but businesslike, does not make much of an attempt to respond

Scene 13
Carl - counselling
I've always been a bit soppy about kids… then someday, somewhere, the happiness lifts like a mist … disillusioned… so easily bruised… my father .. I think about him every day … I thought that would change when I married Jennifer … void… I missed Jennifer much more when I was married to her than I do now'

Scene 14 THREE WEEKS AFTER MISCARRIAGE
Jenny and Carl - after Carl's bath - Jenny cooked curry
three weeks after miscarriage
'You look like a dog who's just been shown a card trick'
'I can't. I'm still grieving'
'The only way to cure that is to get pregnant again'
'How about just for once you do something that I want… or do you have to go through a grieving process before you can give me a bloody answer'

Scene 15
Jenny - counselling
'I have never been what you call a moody type'
'It's as if nobody every taught him the facts of life'

Scene 16 THREE WEEKS AFTER MISCARRIAGE
(REPEAT) Jenny and Carl - after Carl's bath - Jenny cooked curry
Again a nuanced reversal - Carl more aggressive - Jenny more approaching and seeking understanding and explaining - nearer breaking down - trembling and then crying
Jenny more in foreground - Carl in slightly different further-away acoustic
we are with Jenny at the end of the scene

Scene 17
Carl - counselling
'I found out what being in love was all about .. bloody hard … you had to have like radar to pick up what's going on in her head'

Scene 18 JENNY DRESSING FOR DINNER AT QUAGLINO'S
Jenny trying on dress for Quaglino's - mention of Tim - with Carl
floods reported in Africa on TV - woman had baby while stuck up on tree
'Going in opposite directions in the world'
'you always go a bit pre-occupied when I mention Tim'
'You see a lot of this guy after work hours … I feel as if you are living your life without me'
'You have to get hold of this jealousy thing, because it's messing our lives up'
Jenny denies having affair with Tim - Carl breaks down and apologises
'You're asking me to give up everything for you. Aren't you? …No, I won't…. would you give up your depression …would you give up your fantasy that we are suddenly going to turn into some family from the '50s…. all you've given up is living'
'Love should feel better than this'
'we don't value each other enough - I want to be someone'
'OK then'
'OK'

Scene 19
Jenny - counselling
Jenny's mother
'Got to take a risk sometime'

Scene 20 (track 12) JENNY DRESSING FOR DINNER AT QUAGLINO'S
(REPEAT) Jenny trying on dress for Quaglino's - mention of Tim - with Carl
Carl more aggressive and dominant - Jenny a bit scared and evasive
Scene faster
Carl more repentant when Jenny denies having an affair with Tim
(Carl) 'This isn't what love is' - more vicious
Scene ends with Jenny crying - we are with Jenny

Scene 21
Jenny and Carl - counselling
agreed with counsellor that will end marriage
(Jenny) 'He's right. It's not the end of the world
(Carl) 'Well. Good luck'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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