Betsy Coleman by Katie Hims

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 4 May 2012
Betsy Coleman (Maxine Peake) is a thirtysomething waitress who signs up for a memory research project designed to help those with Alzheimer's Disease. The project coordinator David (Benedict Wong), wires her up so that she can revisit her past. Due to funding restrictions, volunteers are normally required for only one session; but Betsy becomes compulsively addicted to exploring herself and her relationship with her late mother Carla (Alison Pettit).
Young Betsy (Shannon Flynn) identified herself with comic-book heroes on late 70s television such as Wonder Woman and the Incredible Hulk. They offered her the kind of role-models that she could not find in real life: although her parents Carla and Mick (Ralph Ineson) loved her, there was always an undercurrent of discord at home, as Mick conducted a clandestine affair with his neighbour Julie (Chrstine Kavanagh). Eventually Carla found out about his infidelities from Julie's husband Des (Tony Bell), leading to a violent climax in which Carla died.
Mary Peate's production stressed that, while the older Betsy could not change her past, she experienced some kind of catharsis in revisiting it. Her emotional identification with her late mother gave her strength, which eventually inspired her to pick up the telephone and talk with Julie and Mick once again, after a gap of several years. The play ended on a note of guarded optimism, as Betsy found out the truth about what happened to her mother, and resolved to make it public.
Maxine Peake gave a remarkable performance as Betsy, whose determination increased as the play progressed, so much so that she was prepared to endure any kind of side-effects resulting from David's experiments.