Homeowners by Kellie Smith

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 29 May 2012
Kate (Rebecca Callard) and Mark (Graeme Hawley) are overjoyed once they have managed to buy their first house after several years of marriage. It's been a hard struggle; they have managed to save very little, and have had to resort to slightly underhand methods to obtain a mortgage. However things look set fair for their new life.
Once they move into their house, complications arise, as the previous owner Penny (Frances Barber) seems particularly reluctant to move out. She has lived there for many years, looking after her family; and now goes out very little, spending most of her time endlessly cooking and cleaning.  Kate and Mark sympathize with her at first, but once they discover her true intentions their attitude changes, as they order her to leave.
But things are not quite as straightforward as they seem. Penny appears to know something about the underhand ways in which the young couple obtained their mortgage, and threatens to expose them if they throw her out. Consequently Kate and Mark hatch a scheme to kill Penny off.
Kellie Smith's play explores the trauma experienced by many people forced to leave their homes when they basically don't want to.  Although Penny comes across as manipulative, taking advantage of the young couple's good natures to further her own ends, we nonetheless understand her plight.  This is in no small way due to Frances Barber's vocally nuanced performance; she comes across as simultaneously motherly, dominant yet plaintive. Callard's Kate tries to reason with Penny. but proves no match for the older woman.
Charlotte Riches' production is well worth a listen: the denouement in particular proves refreshingly unexpected.