Henceforward by Alan Ayckbourn

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Drama on 3 on BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3, 11 June 2010
Described as a "darkly prophetic comedy," Marin Jarvis' production focused on Jerome (Jared Harris), a composer who cannot work since his wife, Corinna (Joanne Whalley), left with their daughter Geain (Rosa Calcraft). Desperate to see Geain again, he engages a young actress, Zoe (SophieWinkleman), to pretend to be his fiancee, in the hope of convincing Corinne that he is a fit parent to look after his daughter. However Zoe quits, unable to cope with Jerome's obsession with recording everything she does in Jerome's house. Hence Jerome's only solution is to programme his robot NAN 300F to sound and look like Zoe in the hope of sustaining his plan.
Years ago I remember watching an old British film The Perfect Woman, with Nigel Patrick as the protagonist and Patricia Roc as a robotic character carrying out all of his wishes. In 1949 this was seen as a satire on pre-Second World War conceptions of gender, in which women were expected to stay at home and serve their partners. Henceforward is much the same in terms of content: Jerome is so wrapped up in his machines that he has little time for human beings: NAN 300F carries out all his wishes, and even repeats the dialogue that he programmes her to say.
Ayckbourn is back on familiar territory once more, as he depicts the difficulties experienced by many women, especially those trapped in relationships with self-interested male partners. The only snag with Jarvis's production was that Jerome, as portrayed by Harris, came across as a particularly unsavoury character; one who deserved everything he got. Although Corinne eventually agreed to get back together with him, with the two of them (Corinne and Jerome) assuming responsibility for Geain's future, Jerome seemed more interested in completing his latest electronic composition. He was left alone in his eyrie with only a malfunctioning NAN for company.