Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Exupery, adapted by Rod Wooden

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The Little Prince Died at Dawn: A Life of Antoine de Exupery

BBC Radio 4, 18 October 2010
This Afternoon Play dramatized the experiences of the French pilot and adventurer Antoine de Exupery (Paul Rhys), who crashed in the Libyan desert in 1936 while attempting to break the record for a flight between Paris and Saigon.  He and his co-pilot Prevot (Adeel Akhtar) survived the impact and managed to exist in an inhospitable environment with only half a litre of coffee, white wine, a few grapes and an orange.
Rod Wooden's adaptation depicted Exupery's shifting responses to the experience; his initial sense of optimism that they would be rescued, which was rapidly superseded by a feeling of fatalism, as all their efforts to attract attention - lighting a fire, walking away from the crashed plan to other parts of the desert - proved futile. His dialogue with Prevot became more and more fragmented - almost stream-of-consciousness in style - as he was gradually deprived of the power of logical thought and more prone to hallucination. The play became a study in degeneration, both thematically and structurally.
The end, when it came, resembled a deus ex machina, with the unexpected appearance of a Bedouin (Sean Baker), who gave both men water and thereby prolonged their lives. This was no invention on Wooden's part; it actually happened, but it did seem rather a convenient way of wrapping up the play.
I cannot describe Wind, Sand and Stars as very dramatic, despite the adapter's claims that the story still has relevant messages for us in terms of globalization and climate change. Nonetheless, as a study in how human beings cope with adversity, especially the adversity of nature, the play was definitely worth a listen. The director was David Hunter.