BBC Radio 3, 3 November 2013
In an introductory talk to this
Drama on 3, director John Retallack pointed out that The Outsider probably works best on radio. From
the evidence of this production, his claim was surely vindicated.
Constructed as a first-person narrative told by Meursault (Alex Lanipekun), this production
came across as both a physical and a mental odyssey, as he tried to come to terms with a hostile world. He encountered
several characters of both sexes, including an apparently attractive woman Marie (Priyanga Burford), while undergoing the ordeal
of trial by jury. However this was not an odyssey in Homeric terms, leading to spiritual or moral growth; on the
contrary Retallack suggested that Meursault was simply trying to cope with a hostile world over which human beings had
little or no control. To an extent this version of The Outsider could be seen as a proto-Absurd Drama,
whose tone was very reminiscent of the work of Ionesco, for instance.
In sonic terms, Retallack deliberately maximized certain effects - the howling of a dog, the slamming
of a door. the use of echoes for courtroom scenes - to emphasize the threats posed to human beings in this world. Meursault
seemed insignificant, especially in view of the fact that he had had recently lost his mother (the source of
his mental stability).
At the end of the production, Meursault had completed his journey, but left us wondering exactly what
he had achieved - if anything. Very unsettling, yet compelling radio.