BBC Radio 4, 11 February 2013
This play in the series of biographical dramas based on George Orwell's
life focused on his love-affairs. In Kate McAll's production Orwell (Joseph Millson) came across as a complex character,
at once dismissive of yet reliant on various women including his wife Eileen O'Shaughnessy (Lyndsey Marshal), Lydia Jackson
(Vera Flatova) and Dorothy (Isabella Marshall).
Having listened to the Classic Serial production of Nineteen Eighty-Four
a day earlier, I now understood where Orwell's obsession with sex actually came from. For him the act was both a symbol of
liberation - from a life of form and convention - and self-definition. Despite his lifelong commitment to socialism,
as well as a gradually increasing reputation as an observer on contemporary politics, he remained fundamentally ill-at-ease
with himself. Perhaps this was due to his latent tuberculosis, or a sense of shame at his previous life in the Colonial
Service; but sex gave him at least some temporary respite.
As the production unfolded, however, so Orwell realized that there was more to his
relationships than the physical act. He came to understand Eileen as someone who not only supported him in his endeavours,
but offered him the kind of stability - both emotional as well as familial - that enabled him to pursue a writing career.
When their son Richard arrived, it seemed as if their life had at last been fulfilled.
However fate dealt him one last twist, as Eileen died as a result of a botched hysterectomy
operation. Orwell was left to look after his son; but by now he had acquired the strength of character to overcome adversity
(illness, loneliness) and write his last great work - Niineteen Eighty-Four.
Structured as a series of episodes tracing two decades in Orwell's life, Loving
was an iluminating piece, distinguished by a stellar central performance from Joseph Millson in the title role.