The Crossing by Hugh Costello

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The Crossing by Hugh Costello. Dir. Eoin O'Callaghan. Perf. Rebecca Saire, Sean Campion, Nick Dunning. BBC Radio 4, 4 Feb. 2015. BBCiPlayer to 6 Mar. 2015.

As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Set in 2019, Hugh Costello's drama imagined a situation where Britain had withdrawn from the European Union, and the Prime Minister (Rebecca Saire) finds it necessary to seal the country's frontiers. She arranges a top-level meeting with the Taoiseach (Sean Campion), while inspecting new state-of-the-art checkpoints (or "facilities" as they are euphemistically described).

In an important sub-plot, Conor Glynn (Gavin Drea) is arrested for carrying an unusual cargo across the river border and into the United Kingdom. He has been forced to do so, as the new border arrangements have significantly affected his family business of organizing river cruises. A jail sentence seems to be the only result; that is, until his mother Marian (Eleanor Methven) intervenes at the highest level.

At one level, The Crossing shows how withdrawal from the European Union will have significant economic and social consequences extending far beyond what the politicians say (or even understand). It will destroy people's lives, close down hitherto profitable business, and stimulate the kind of illegal activities most commonly associated with the Cold War, when people like Conor regularly crossed the Iron Curtain in order to ensure their survival, despite the risks involved. Despite the Prime Minister's honeyed words, as she describes the new border facilities in glowing terms as containing "the most modern" technologies and equipment, they are nothing more than reincarnations of Checkpoint Charlie, the remains of which provide a lasting memory to the exigencies of life in a divided Germany from 1961 to 1989.

At another level, Eoin O'Callaghan's production shows how out-of-touch most politicians are with the concerns of the people foolish enough to vote for them. They are more concerned with maintaining their own position; of satisfying their coalition partners; and ensuring that they have "something to sell" out of their top-level meetings. It takes a direct intervention from Marian to make them aware of how ordinary citizens feel; and even then, the politicians have no real idea how to deal with her, other than trying to fob her off with more honeyed words or meaningless platitudes. The Crossing exposes the basic emptiness behind the Euro-debate; for all their apparent conviction, public figures like Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg or David Cameron neither know nor care about the consequences of their actions. One hopes, albeit vainly, that their endless speeches either in favor of or against a future in the European Union could lead to nothing.