BBC Radio 4, 26-30 September 2011
A domestic drama from the queen of the aga-saga, about a husband and
wife (Sam Dale, Christine Kavanagh) trying to come to terms with their offspring having at last flown the familial nest. Or
have they? As the drama unfolded, all three of their children return for brief periods, following relationship troubles.
I was really not sure what to make of Tracey Neale's production. The two protagonists
came across as people experiencing severe emotional conflict: Edie, the wife, did not want her children to leave, and threw
herself into her acting career in a vain attempt to forget them; while her husband Russell pursued a quasi-'normal' life as
an agent, while trying to persuade Edie to embark on a second honeymoon. Their eldest son Matt (Jonathan Forbes) set up a
flat with his girlfriend, came home in frustration, and left once more as he learned of his impending fatherhood.
Such conflicts are the basis of much radio drama (as regular listeners to The
Archers might testify), but I came away from this adaptation feeling more irritated than entertained. Perhaps this is
my fault (the result, perhaps, of a pragmatic upbringing, where I was always advised to resolve emotional conflicts for myself),
but I felt that the characters spent too much time navel-gazing and not enough on trying to work their lives out. The experience
of living alone after the child-bearing years is a traumatic one, to be sure, but every parent has to learn to come to terms
with it. I wondered why Edie considered herself so special.
I also admit that the ending left me dissatisfied as all the characters were
ostensibly happy with their new lines. Edie and Russell looked forward to life on their own, while the children all moved
away into satisfying relationships in homes of their own. Given their previous track record, however, I doubted whether this
state of affairs would prevail for very long. I was sure that the family would recommence their wailing soon.