BBC Radio 4, 29 November 2010
This documentary-drama told the consequences of an evacuation in 1944
of Lawrence Cross (Albie D'Urso) and his brothers from London to Hull. Lawrence was the four-year-old brother of a single
parent: originally they were told to stick together, but they end up being separated. Lawrence stays with the Cross family
(Jane and John Godber), and initially finds the experience a traumatic one, as he perpetually tries to escape. Eventually
he gets used to life in the village of Willerby outside Hull, but returns to his mother Violet (Lindsey Coulson) once hostilities
finish in 1945.
However Violet finds the experience of looking after so many children a traumatic
one, so she resolves to send Lawrence back permanently back to the Cross family. Since then he has made his life up there.
The play includes interviews with the real-life Lawrence, who described the trauma of being taken away from his family at
such a young age, and how it has blighted his life ever since.
To playwright Cross - Lawrence's real-life daughter - the experience of displacement
seems unbelievable. She cannot understand why the decision was made, even allowing for the difference in historical context.
Even if Violet was suffering, why should she have been so callous to her son? The older Lawrence admitted to some sense of
alienation, but I did get the sense that he was being led on by his daughter. Perhaps Helen could not quite understand Violet's
motives; she felt she was doing the best for her son's future.
While the play - recorded on location in Hull - represented a worthy exercise into
the author's family history, it was perhaps too strident in its approach to command our sympathy. The director was Mary Ward-Lowery.