Georgy Girl by Margaret Forster, dramatized by Rhiannon Tise

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British New Wave season on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 2-6 September 2013
One of the most interesting aspects of Radio 4's British New Wave season - encompassing Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, This Sporting Life, Up the Junction as well as Georgy Girl (all reviewed elsewhere on, is the way in which all four productions explore aspects of male and female identity.  Saturday Night and Sporting Life look at maleness in a rapidly changing society, where strength and power are no longer really valued; while Junction and Georgy explore aspects of feminine liberation in the period leading up to the first wave feminist movement in Britain from the late Sixties onwards.
In Tracey Neale's production, Georgy (Lucy Speed) was the archetypal ugly duckling - a single twenty-seven-year old who had never been kissed, let alone enjoyed any regular relationships.  Her principal role in life was to act as unpaid servant cum flatmate for Meredith (Philippa Stanton), a flighty young woman moving from boyfriend to boyfriend without any particular wish to settle down.  Pregnancies were an occupational hazard for Maredith; mostly she dealt with them by having an abortion.  Rather like the characters in Nell Dunn's Up the Junction, she believed in enjoying the moment rather than making any long-term plans.
Would that Georgy could enjoy such independence.  She not only had to contend with a domineering father (Ben Crowe) but with a much older  "uncle" (Stephen Critchlow) wanted her for a long-term relationship.  To both men she was nothing more than an object - someone who could cook, fetch and carry but who could never be considered beautiful.
Neale's production showed how Georgy gradually acquired self-belief, partly through a love-affair with Meredith's husband Jos (Paul Ready), and partly by realizing that life presented her with far more opportunities than she had previously contemplated.  There was no need to submit to the patriarchal will of her father or James; she could branch out on her own if she wanted to.  Unlike Up the Junction, Georgy Girl presents a world of narrowly reclaimed opportunity, in which female liberation is expressed mentally rather than physically.
Lucy Speed's performance in the central role was quite admirable: both insecure yet quietly confident at the same time, especially when she enjoyed the experience of love-making for the first time.