Is Your Love Better Than Life? by Frances Byrnes

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Drama on 3 on BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3, 16 February 2014
Inspired by T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral, Polly Thomas' production created a nightmare world in which the Church had taken upon itself to assume quasi-despotic powers in opposition to the State.  Notions of piety and forgiveness no longer seemed significant: what mattered more was that the Archbishop (Don Gilet) tried his best to sustain his position and thereby ensure that the Church as a whole had a future.
Not that anyone seemed particularly concerned with the struggle.  Although this world was highly mediatic, with endless news bulletins, interviews and tweets disseminated worldwide, it seemed that the medium was more important than the message.  The ambience was strongly reminiscent of Huxley's Brave New World, with the tweets (for example) providing the soma, or narcotic, ensuring that no one could actively rebel against either Church or State.
As with Eliot's drama, much of the play's action arose from the attempts of individuals to challenge this oligarchic status quo.  While they achieved success, to the extent that they managed to get their voices heard, the dénouement did not leave us feeling any sense of triumph or and/or martyrdom.  The Archbishop tried to recant, but we wondered whether he was just speaking mere words - using the kind of language, for instance, that could be instantaneously tweeted across the globe.
The play's title - Is Your Love Better Than Life? - posed a question, and thereby encouraged us to concentrate on issues of truth-telling.  However it left us questioning whether there was such a thing as "truth", or whether it wasn't just a meaningless phrase.