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Before the Fact by Frances Iles, dramatized by Ronald Frame

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Saturday Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 20 April 2013
 
Lina (Emilia Fox) enjoys what she thinks is a blissfully happy marriage to Johnnie (Ben Caplan).  He's young, virile, apparently prosperous and apparently passionate about her.
 
However life does not quite turn out as she expects.  Johnnie turns out to be both duplicitous and wasteful, shunning regular employment and spending most of his time at the races.  Lina keeps on forgiving him; Johnnie vows to reform; and their marriage continues in precisely the same way.
 
Eventually Lina discovers to her horror that Johnnie is not just a wastrel, but will quite readily turn to crime if he thinks he can get away with it.  As Bruce Young's production unfolded, we discovered just how clever he actually is; any possible avenues of suspicion are cleverly sealed, leaving him in the clear.
 
Lina believes that she has only one way out; to modern listeners, it might seem rather ineffective, but we have to remember that Frances Iles' novel was set in the mid-1930s, when women had far less freedom to move within marriage as compared to today.
 
Emilia Fox's Lina came across as a trusting character - someone who wanted to believe the best in everyone, yet found herself continually frustrated by her husband.  Caplan's Johnnie was a smooth talker yet beneath that fašade lurked a ruthless character; it was obvious he would stop at nothing to achieve his aims.  Patricia Hodge offered sterling support as Miss Sedbusk, a writer of detective stories with a penchant for discussing murder cases, yet apparently unable to perceive Johnnie's true motives.  Sometimes the most successful crimes are those taking place under our very noses.