Saturday Drama on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, 2 June 2012
In this complex retelling of The Sleeping Beauty, a young girl
Ireena (Laura Greenwood) finds a young doctor Charonne (Tim McMullan) trapped in the briar at the edge of a forest.
After she frees him he takes her back to his house, where she lives in secret until discovered by the doctor's sister
Sylvanne (Ruth Mitchell). Sylvanne tells Charonne that he cannot keep her, as both he and Ireena might be called to account
as a fugitive by those who have emerged victorious in a nameless war.
Despite the risks involved, Charonne does not listen to Sylvanne, and talks
at length with Ireena, who knows nothing about her past, her name, or where she is supposed to be. Rather than trying
to help her, however, he makes her the subject of a story in which he (Charonne) is the protagonist as a young man
(Harry McEntire), while Ireena is given a new name - Rosa.
The title of Hattie Naylor's play - The Forgotten - works on two thematic
levels. First, it refers to Ireena herself, who quite literally has forgotten everything about her life, as she emerges from
the forest. Second, it refers to the ways in which Sylvanne and Charonne try their best to forget something that they did
in the past, purely to save their own skins. Both of them indulge in fantasies of power in which they take leading roles:
Charonne becomes the hero of his story, with Ireena/ Rosa subjugating herself to his will, while Sylvanne forces Ireena to
take various natural remedies to 'cure' her of her illness. Ireena is not actually unwell at all: Sylvanne just convinces
her that she is. Neither strategy actually works, and both brother and sister have
to confront what they have done, and learn to live with it.
Sometimes Paul Dodgson's production seemed a little too portentous for its own good
- the repeated use of voices whispering various remedies over and over again seemed thematically unnecessary. However the play
reminded us of the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions, as a way of overcoming guilt.