Tom Thumb Redux by Melissa Murray

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Drama of the Week on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 11 January 2013
Forget George Pal's pretty-pretty version of the famous fairytale in 1958 with Terry-Thomas; this was a full-on morality-play inspired version. Tom Latimer (Ron Cook) is a down-at-heel research biologist, about to lose his job after having had a bust-up with new boss Macready (Patrick Brennan), and conscious that his much younger second wife Val (Helen Longworth) is having an affair - although he does not as yet know the lover's identity.
One night he drowns his sorrows in drink and stays late at the laboratory, trying to complete an experiment, the consequences of which he seems blissfully unaware.  It is only when he starts to shrink at an alarming rate that Tom discovers what he has done.  Nothing can be done to reverse the process, despite numerous attempts to find a formula.  Eventually Tom is reduced to nothing - which gives his colleague Peter (Jonathan Forbes) the opportunity to try and continue the affair with Vicky.  However Melissa Murray's play has a satisfyingly unexpected ending that destroys all these plans and allows Tom the chance for revenge.
At one level Marc Beeby's production follows a well-trodden path traced by horror films of the Forties and Fifties, by warning listeners of the dangers of meddling with the balance of nature.  At another level, however, it suggests that all secrets - especially those to do with the family - are impossible to keep; the truth will always come to haunt wrongdoers in the end.  Perhaps it's best to lead a virtuous life as much as possible.
Tom Thumb Redux is also tremendou fun, with Ron Cook in particular having the chance to have his voice further and further distorted as he gradually shrinks.