The Startling Truths of Old World Sparrows by Fiona Evans

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The Wire on BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3, 16 March 2013
Drawn from interviews with three elderly people and woven into a fictional structure spanning one day, The Startling Truths ..  was notable for the fact that the actors were all children.  Rhoda (Sydney Wade) has run out of cigarettes, worries for her family's welfare as they decide to visit her during a snowstorm, and tries to cope with panic attacks, which grow more intense as she gets older. Stan (Daniel Kerr) locks his door in an attempt to ward off the children who plague his entire life.  Although be has suffered seven heart accks, he resolutely tries to live as normal a life as possible.  Ron (Ellis Hollins) can no longer enjoy that privilege; as a stroke victim he is entirely dependent on carers, some of whom are assiduous in their work, others not.  Unable to get to the phone, he spends his days sat in a chair, waiting for the next carer to visit.
Pauline Harris' production took an uncompromising look at old age and its drawbacks; when individuals no longer have the capacity to look after themselves or their loved ones, they tend to feel useless and unwanted.  Perhaps death might come as a merciful release for them.  Nonetheless the three characters showed admirable spirit as they coped with life's adversities.
The idea of having children deliver the dialogue was an interesting one: it helped to stress how elderly people are not a race apart - as some government ministers might have us believe - but individuals experiencing the same kind of illnesses and emotions as those much younger than themselves.  In a just society, where individuals are not out for themselves, this fact might be understood more.