Bridge by Donna Franceschild

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Bridge by Donna Franceschild. Dir. Kirsty Williams. Perf. Iain Robertson, Eilidh McCormick. BBC Radio 4, 20 Feb. 2015. BBCiPlayer to 22 Mar. 2015.

This powerful two-hander, set on a lonely bridge outside a Scottish city, had Davy (Iain Robertson) encountering the Woman (Eilidh McCormick), who claims to be waiting for her boyfriend, a police officer. For his part, Davy tells her he has been searching for his dog. After asking her for a light for his cigarette, Davy vows to move on; but does not do so. Rather he sticks to her like glue, making the Woman suspect that he is trying to pick her up for sexual purposes.

As the drama unfolds, however, so we discover that both protagonists are in the same boat, so to speak; they are two of life's losers trying to deal with their misfortunes in particular ways. Their relationship gradually develops insofar as they learn to empathize with one another; they will always be like ships that pass in the night, but at least they can understand how and why their lives have turned out like they have.

Kirsty Williams's taut production vividly depicted two characters who began by trying to play roles for which they were clearly unsuited; the steady girlfriend and the happy family man. Such roles formed a protective shell that they wrapped around themselves, so as to cope with their purposeless lives; at the time such roles also led them into the kind of delusions that only rendered their existences even more pointless. They were caught in a dilemma of whether to acknowledge or shy away from the realities of their world; and neither of them actually knew what to do.

The action unfolded against a sonic backdrop of a river flowing in the background that not only reminded us of the location, but provided a macabre reminder of what both characters could do, if they so wished; in other words, throw themselves off the bridge into the water and end it all. The fact that they didn't was a tribute to their staying-power.