BBC Radio 4, 15-22 July 2012
Any adaptation of this novel is inevitably going to be clouded by memories
of Mike Nichols' 1967 film with Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and the immortal Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack.
With this in mind, however, Kate McAll's production made a very good stab at recreating
the atmosphere of early 1960s California, when most husbands went out to work, their spouses stayed at home, and their offspring
tried to look for an alternative to the seemingly 'respectable' option of a stable job, home and family. On the face of it
Benjamin Braddock (Danny Mahoney) has it all; he has just graduated with high honours, and has the chance of taking up a scholarship
to continue his studies in college, with a view to becoming a doctor. However he feels frustrated by his life; although he
has everything in terms of material goods, he is cosseted by an over-protective family. His father (William Hope) dreams of
moulding Benjamin in his own image as a successful professional; when Benjamin spends his days watching television and/or
loafing, his father responds by asking more and more prying questions, as if trying to make his son accountr for his behaviour.
Benjamin's mother (Laura Brook), appears more sympathetic, but even she woners why her son does not want to follow the established
Given this lifestyle, it's not surprising that Benjamin chooses instead to have a
fling with Mrs. Robinson (Sian Thomas). Although reluctant to begin at first, Benjamin continues it, even though he knows
it is wrong. At least Mrs. Robinson asks no questions of him.
McAll's production also took a sympathetic look at Mrs. Robinson's life. A frustrated
homemaker, who had to leave her studies due to pregnancy, she spends much of her time cleaning the silver, cooking for her
husband (Michael Crossman), and trying to be a good partner. She is a good example of one of those Desperate Housewives,
who so dominated our global television screens recently. We should not be surprised to find her embarking on an affair with
Benjamin, even though she is only interested in love-making and nothing else.
The affair soon fizzles out, leaving both parties recriminating with one another.
Mrs. Robinson cannot acknowledge the fact that Benjamin fancies his daughter Elaine (Samantha Dakin), while Benjamin pursues
a love-affair with Elain not so much because he likes her, but rather to cleanse himself of the guilt caused by his affair
with Mrs. Robinson. Neither of them are left very happy: although Benjamin and Elaine do eventually come together, we are
not very certain whether their alliance has much chance of survival.
Apart from some wobbly American accents, McAll's production very successfully recreated
a period in history when gender roles were far less fluid than they are today, while Benjamin's domestic rebellion anticipates
far greater rebellions against parental authority that took place later in the decade.