Sung by Jim Cartwright

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Sung by Jim Cartwright. Dir. Gary Brown. Perf. Jane Horrocks, James Cartwright. BBC Radio 4, 27 May 2015. BBCiPlayer

This drama's basic premise is a familiar one - a washed-up singer (Jane Horrocks) consoles herself with morning glasses of wine in front of breakfast television, believing her career is finished. A chirpy door-to-door salesperson (James Cartwright) visits her, and after trying to give her the familiar patter, discovers the singer's true identity. After offering her the usual platitudes (that his mother used to play the singer's tapes regularly on their way to school), he tries to resurrect her career with the offer of a new song especially written for her. He labors night and day to produce it for her, but discovers to his cost that the singer is not all she claims to be, especially in her current career. Nonetheless the play ends optimistically with the singer at last discovering that spark within her that made her a star in the first place.

The basic plot has been recycled throughout the years, notably in "A Star is Born" or "I Could Go on Singing." Horrocks makes a convincing Garlandesque figure, wallowing in self-pity over yet another glass of plonk, while complaining to the salesperson about the ways in which her husbands, managers, and other hangers-on progressively fleeced her of her money, rendering her virtually destitute. The salesperson retains his optimism, partly out of respect for the singer's memory, and partly out of a desire to extricate himself from a humdrum existence and savor the heady atmosphere of show-business. The fact that his dreams are abruptly quashed says a lot about the nature of talent, and those who are prepared to profit from it.

The dialogue is sharp and witty, well performed by the two actors, with a specially-written song at the end (by John O'Hara). "Sung" might not be especially original in terms of content, but it is nonetheless highly entertaining.