The Edison Cylinders by Mike Walker

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 23 March 2013
Rhona Forrester (Clare McCarron) is about to lose her job in a sound laboratory due to economic circumstances.  In the last three months working for the company, she discovers some old cylinder recordings of Darwin and Edison that require restoration.  At the same time she is trying to fight off the attentions of an old boyfriend Liam (Jonjo O'Neill) who also happens to be her boss.  Unfortunately for Rhona, the two strands of her complicated life come together, as voices from the past begin to blight her views of present and future.
The Edison Cylinders is a sinister piece, making us aware of the power of sound recordings both to preserve the past and to cast sinister influences over the future.  What might have seemed a 'normal' or 'mundane' piece in the late Victorian era assumes a different meaning in the present.  Through this sophisticated device - ideal for the medium of radio, where sounds can be integrated into a temporal continuum that subverts distinctions between past, present, and future - dramatist Mike Walker explores the contingency of historical meaning: there is no such thing as an objective 'fact' of a recording, but solely interpretations.
The production started mundanely enough as the story of a love-affair gone wrong, which Liam tries to resurrect, but soon moved into a more sinister mode, in which nothing - not least the characters' behaviour - was what it seemed.  The director was John Taylor.