Fall by Zinnie Harris

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BBC Radio 3, 28 June 2009
This production, originally staged at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre, came to the airwaves laden with awards. Set in an unidentified foreign country, it focused on the moral dilemmas faced by Justine (Hannah Donaldson), a liberal campaigner in a police state, fighting to reverse the death-sentences imposed on several convicted criminals, yet inexorably sucked into the web of corruption that helped to sustain the ruling Úlite. By allowing herself to establish a close relationship with the chief of police, she found herself forced to compromise her principles.
Works about police states tend to fall into two categories. They either suggest that brutality is a way of life, as the rulers impose their authority over the people (as in Alan Parker's film Midnight Express (1978)), or they focus on how individuals cope with life in such a world (as in Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden). Fall comes into the second category. The only problem with the play, however, is that it is not really very good: the characters are sketchily drawn (dividing themselves rather schematically into the sufferers and the sadists), while the plot meanders along without developing the characters to any great extent. The play came to Radio 3 with a predictable health warning about "strong language" - most of which consisted of the characters repeating the word fuck at every tick and turn - but it seemed that Harris was trying to shock rather than telling us more about Justine's mental struggles.
The cast did what they could with intractable material, but failed to sustain my interest. The director - as in the original stage version - was Dominic Hill.