Arlo by John Retallack

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Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 26 November 2013
This painful little piece focused on the life of Arlo (Joel MacCormack), the product of a passionate - and youthful - love-affair between Tom (Jonathan Forbes) and Grace (Madeleine Worrall).  His parents had ended up marrying even before they had graduated - after a few years, Tom believed that he was emotionally trapped by the demands of job and family and left for a full-time job in Kosovo.  Grace and Arlo were left on their own, and formed a strong bond between one another, so strong, in fact, that Arlo resented the presence of any other man who might want to have a relationship with his mother.
The main action of the play focused on Arlo's search for identity; his desire to carve out a life for himself, despite his turbulent family background, while reflecting at the same time on the extent to which he had been shaped by his parents.  Eventually he had a plan to try and find his father - whom he had not seen for eight years - and at least managed to forge some kind of happy ending. 
The action of John Retallack's play was set against the soundtrack of popular folk songs (Grace spent much of her time singing in various hostelries around Devon).  These songs spoke of love, of longing, and lack of fulfilment; as we listened to the lyrics, we would reflect on the extent to which the protagonists' lives rehearsed some of the ideas expressed in the songs.  The director was David Hunter.