The Prince of Humberside by Tess Humphrey

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Download The Prince of Humberside from University Radio York

University Radio York, UK, 20 June 2011
Laurie Waugh (Joshua King) is in a bad way. After a troubled childhood, during which time he was neglected by his parents, while being subject to social and sexual traumas, he had decided to end it all by jumping off the Humber Bridge. As a last resort he calls the National Health Service (NHS) Hotline, and speaks to Arabella (Tess Humphrey), a thirtysomething operator who seems more concerned with asking him bureaucratic questions ("What kind of suicide is this?") rather than listening to him. As the drama unfolds, however, so Arabella's attitude changes. Despite his privileged background (he is the latest in an aristocratic line), Laurie has never had anyone willing to listen to him until now. Arabella might think of him as slightly immature and over-emotional in his reactions, but she cannot help but sympathize. The drama ends on a cautiously hopeful note, as Arabella finds a way of delaying, if not necessarily preventing, Laurie from jumping to a watery grave.
The Prince of Humberside is an intriguing two-hander focusing on character-development: dramatist Humphrey peels off the protective layers surrounding both protagonists to reveal two fundamentally lonely people who actually rely on one another for support. Despite her age and (apparent) experience, Arabella leads as melancholy an existence as her youthful caller; if she can save him, she feels that she will be able to look forward to the future with less jaundiced eyes.
I thoroughly enjoyed this play with its snappy dialogue and sympathetic characterization: I hope that Humphrey will use the experience to pen works in the future.