BBC Radio 4, 3 September 2013
This joyous celebration of mid-Sixties
hedonism had privileged girl Lily (Zoe Tapper) living life to the full in working-class Battersea with sisters Sylvie (Hannah
Wood) and Rube (Lacey Turner). Together they embarked on a series of adventures - one-night stands, visits to local
clubs and furtive encounters in cars or dark corners - while spending their daytimes working in the local sweet factory.
Viewed from today's perspective, they might seem somewhat amoral in attitude as they move
from man to man, enjoying unprotected sex in spite of the inevitable consequences. However, in a society where men
still treated women as objects - to be picked up and set aside at will after having given them "a good time" - the girls'
freewheeling lifestyle was something to be admired. Despite the potential risks, they retained a courageous desire to battle
with whatever life threw at them and emerge triumphant.
Lucy Collingwood's production placed considerable emphasis on movement, as the girls
enjoyed free rides on their boyfriends' bikes or cars. The action unfolded at a breathless pace, leaving the characters
little or no time for reflection. Perhaps this was a good thing; if the girls thought too much about what they
were doing, they would not be having such a good time. This sense of immediacy
was reinforced through Lily's narration, which told the tale in the present continuous tense.
Lucy Collingwood's production
contrasted the garrulous yet good-hearted sisters with the more reserved Lily. Although living and enjoying life
together, they were perpetually separated by class: Lily could never shake off her privileged roots. To some of her
boyfriends, her background proved problematic; they either wanted to be like her or rejected her altogether. By
contrast Rube and Sylvie willingly embraced her, in the (justifiable) belief that she was "one of them" - a young
woman willing to take advantage of her new-found sexual and behavioural freedoms and exploit them to the full.
While Up the Junction
is undoubtedly a period-piece, Collingwood's production offered a way forward for anyone wanting to make the best their lives.