A Kdnapping by Andy Mulligan

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A Kidnapping on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 17-19 March 2014
Recorded in the Philippines, John Dryden's fast-paced production told a morality tale of two British teachers, Mark (Daniel Ryan) and Rachel (Jade Matthew) who plotted to kidnap the 10-year-old son of a leading Filipino senator, a pupil at the school where they both taught.  The operation went perfectly - at least in principle - but things soon began to go wrong once Paolo the boy (Nacio Samonte) had been abducted.  Mark showed considerable ingenuity in trying to rescue the plan at any given moment, but circumstances conspired against him.  The boy was restored to his family; Rachel was arraigned; and Mark disappeared.
The play tried its best to explore the psychology of two apparently well-adjusted young people, who were prepared to abuse the trust placed in them by the school and its parents, in an attempt to solve their money troubles.  Mark arrogantly assumed that he understood the vagaries of Filipino cultures, but found himself overwhelmed by events.  While sustaining his buccaneering arrogance, we felt that the situation was becoming more and more out of his control  The morality-play structure was a good one; it suggested that Mark and Rachel were almost doomed to fail, and thoroughly deserved what they got in the end.
On the other hand A Kidnapping was also quietly amusing in the way it explored British prejudices about the so-called "mysterious" East.  Rachel was perpetually worried that she might be thrown to a tiger belonging to Paolo's father, should she get caught; the father himself (Bart Guingorna) showed no inclination to disabuse her of this belief.  When Mark and Rachel tried to escape, they automatically assumed that the poor Filipino tradespeople could be easily bribed with a few hundred pesos to take them to Borneo - and ultimate safety.  Their complacencies were cruelly exposed, leaving them to face the full mercy of the law.
Fast-paced, snappily written, and full of plot twists and turns, this was a thoroughly entertaining production.