An Unchoreographed World by Frances Byrnes (2008). Dir. Mark Smalley. Perf. Sophie Jerrold, Richard McCabe. BBC Radio 4
Extra, 27 Mar. 2015. BBCiPlayer
It's May 1940, and the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company has been stranded in the Netherlands at the end of a British Council
tour. With typical lack of planning, they have been quite literally left in a lurch by a well-meaning government organization
with plenty of enthusiasm but little practical know-how.
The experience is quite frightening: the dancers, led by Ninette de Valois (Kate Littlewood) are in imminent danger of
being bombed, and they have little or no idea of how and whether they will escape or not. In this extreme situation a love-affair
develops between young ballerina Peggy Hookham, aka Margot Fonteyn (Sophie Jerrold), and musical genius Constant Lambert (Richard
McCabe). There is no real future to the affair, but the immediacy and the passion of it drives them on. We learn that the
two of them are united by a passion for music as well as for one another.
Frances Byrnes's play focuses on the sense of loss, of Lambert's musical scores (due to the German occupation), as well
as the loss of innocence. Fonteyn enjoys the experience of performing under adverse circumstances, but she can never experience
adolescence as understood by her pre-war contemporaries. Falling in love with a much older man has its attractions, but in
the end it blighted her future life.