BBC Radio 4, 4 July 2009
Set in the Czech Republic in the late 1960s and the present day, Utz
follows the fortunes of an English narrator (David Weyman) searching out Utz, an eccentric collector of vintage porcelain
(Jack Klaff) and his servant Marta (Pam Ferris). Eventually it turns out that Marta is Utz's wife; they have a curious relationship
until Utz's death, and then Marta assumes sole responsibility for dealing with Utz's collection.
Marilyn Imrie's production told the story of a German émigré whose collection symbolizes
an ideal of perfection that he hoped to achieve. When Utz dies in relative obscurity, he smashes his porcelain to bits and
dumps it on a rubbish-tip, convinced that this represents the end of his life. The narrator spends much of his time reconstructing
Utz's life, but eventually discovers that he has been manipulated by Marta.
Part-historical evocation of life in the Soviet bloc, part-elegy for a man dedicating
himself to an ideal under the most unpromising circumstances, Utz provided an inspiring tale. The only cavil I have
about this production is that the German accents were strongly reminiscent of those used in the 1980s sitcom 'Allo 'Allo.
The fact that Sam Kelly (Hans in the sitcom) appeared in Utz's cast as Orlok only served to reinforce this impression.
This was one occasion when casting might serve to undercut the overall effect of the production.