Wild Blood by Inua Ellams

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The Wire on BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3, 30 November 2013
There are some plays - Edward Bond's Saved immediately comes to mind - where the violence is often explicit and shocking.  When that play premiered at the Royal Court in 1965, critics and audiences were both attracted and nauseated in equal measure, especially at a time when the Lord Chamberlain had the power to censor plays before they were performed.
There are other plays whose violence is equally paramount, but suggested rather than overt.  Inua Ellams' Wild Blood falls into that category.  The premise is straightforward: Ragi (Babou Ceesay), a married man living in England is in trouble, as his wife is due to return home soon, and he has to piece together what happened in the last month before she arrives.  All he knows is that while he has ostensibly been looking after the house, his son Zac (Chase Willoughby) has developed violent tendencies, while his father Benedict (Ben Onwukwe) seems to possess an unhealthy obsession.  Ragi finds out what happens, but the explanation turns out to be much more disturbing than he had ever anticipated.
Wild Blood explores the clash of cultures often experienced by families from different backgrounds.  In this case, dramatist Ellams examines how the "wild blood" associated with the characters' backgrounds still emerges, despite living in comparative respectability within the United Kingdom.  By doing so, he invites us to consider precisely what we understand by the term "wild" - and its implied opposite of "civilized".  The conclusions he comes to are particularly surprising.
Abigail le Fleming's production contained convincing performances from the three protagonists.  I'm glad to see that Radio 3 have resurrected The Wire slot; there have been too few new productions this season.  It provides one of the best outlets for innovative and often disturbing new writing.