The Steam Excursion by Charles Dickens, adapted by Stephen Wyatt

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BBC Radio 7, 17 April 2010
Another comic cautionary tale from the Sketches by Boz series, "The Steamship Excursion" focused on a lazy twentysomething law student, Percy Noakes (Morton Bloom), who spends his life being "a devilish good fellow" making himself agreeable to those socially superior to him. If ever there was a funeral, he would be there in the second cart, shedding crocodile tears; if anyone organizes a social event, he occupies pride of place on their guest list.
In a desire to increase his prestige, Noakes organizes a steamship excursion, and determines to invite only those people who might help him. Unfortunately he encounters a potentially insurmountable problem: among his guests are Mrs. Taunton (Shirley Dixon) and Mrs. Briggs (Joanna Monro), two sworn enemies who make every effort to do one another down in public. Once the trip goes ahead, daggers are temporarily sheathed, as the two women eat and drink to their heart's content - indeed, Mrs. Taunton tries her best to flirt with Percy. However this truce does not last: a storm brews up, the ships begin to list, the tables of food are upset, while the guests suffer acute seasickness. Percy is blamed for everything, including the weather. Frustrated by his lack of success, he resolves to shun polite society for good and return to his studies. In time he becomes a feared prosecuting counsel, as well as a misanthrope.
Sally Avens' production unfolded like a cautionary tale, with Boz (Nicholas Farrell) taking an active part in the narrative, both telling the characters what to do, as well as commenting on their actions. He was perfectly aware that Noakes' scheme was doomed to fail, and took a positive pleasure in witnessing the young man's discomfort. After such an experience, it was not surprising that he should become such an aggresively-minded lawyer.