Miss You Still by Lenny Henry

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 1 August 2013
Joyce (Claire Perkins), an administrator at a local Midlands bus garage, becomes increasingly concerned about Charlie (Lenny Henry), one of her bus-driving colleagues, who has shut himself up in his home.  Accompanied by her teenage daughter Roxanne (Bunmi Mojekwu), she visits Charlie, and discovers that he lives in almost total squalor.  Although too busy to do the job herself, she deputes Roxanne to take on the job of cleaning up the house.  Roxanne objects initially, but then agrees to do so.  Once Roxanne begins, however, she discovers that Charlie's house is haunted by the ghosts of the past ...
Claire Grove's production contained distinct echoes of Henry James' Turn of the Screw, as it focused on how the ghosts of the past haunt people living in the present.  Charlie has lost his daughter Nora several years previously aged only six years old; and has kept a room full of her things as a kind of mini-shrine to her.  Roxanne has also lost her father prematurely to a heart-attack, which may explain why she is peculiarly sensitive to the spirits in Charlie's house. However the spirits prove benevolent rather than malignant, as both Charlie and Roxanne come to terms with their losses and learn how to contemplate the future.
Told as a first-person narrative by Roxanne, Miss You Still was a powerful piece of drama.  As a dramatist, Lenny Henry has a unique grasp of the local Jamaican idiom, and how it can be adapted in different ways by the middle-aged Charlie and the teenage Roxanne.  Music plays a major part in establishing the play's unique atmosphere, from the childish song Roxanne sings (as a way of coping with stressful situations), to the full-blown recording - with Roxanne as the star - that concludes the piece.  I congratulate everyone in creating such a powerful piece of radio.