BBC Radio 4, 19 January 2010
As described in the opening moments of Kirsty Williams' production, 'the
lonely' are the boys who have "become men too close to heaven and well before their time." Gallico uses the phrase to describe
the American aircrew in the Second World War, who had to fight the Luftwaffe in full knowledge that their next flight might
be their last.
The Lonely recounts a Brief Encounter-style romance between American
pilot Jerry (Michael Goldsmith) and English girl Patches (Laura Rees). The two of them meet in adverse circumstances in the
centre of London, and resolve to go away together to a Scottish island, ostensibly to 'get away from it all.' However
uncomfortable truth keeps breaking in: Jerry has to go off on another mission, and even if he survives, he will eventually
return to America to meet up once again with his fiancee. Meanwhile Patches will have to accommodate herself once again to
her "kind of world" of middle-class respectability, in which decent English girls were expected to marry, leave
full-time work and start a family. Although Jerry and Patches fall wildly in love with one another, they are reluctant to
do "anything foolish" - in other words, flout convention and let their love-affair continue.
Both Goldsmith and Rees made strenuous efforts to breathe life into this familiar
story; and to a large extent they succeeded. The ending was particularly poignant, as Patches murmured "God bless Jerry,"
just before the two of them parted to the sound of faint violins on the soundtrack. Jerry did not reply, but we were well
aware of his emotions at this moment, as he embarked on another flight in full knowledge that he would never see Patches again.
But then came the surprise: after a short pause, the two of them started talking
once more, and decided that they would get married, whatever the consequences. We understood how they had decided to set up
'home' for themselves - even though 'home,' in their world represented a state of mind ather than bricks and mortar.