Blurred by Frazer Flintham

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BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play website

BBC Radio 4, 11 January 2012
Old university friends Hannah (Naomi Frederick) and Nikki (Rosie Cavaleiro) meet up once more after a ten-year absence. Their backgrounds are very different: Hannah comes from a prosperous middle-class family, while Nikki's circumstances are more modest. Nonetheless they forged a close relationship during their student days; but since then they have drifted apart, especially since Nikki failed to show up at Hannah's wedding to Ben (Simon Bubb). Eventually we discover the shocking reason why this has happened, as Nikki reveals what happened to her on New Year's Eve 1999, the day that Ben proposed to Hannah. Once that information has been divulged, Hannah and Nikki can never be friends any more.
Frazer Flintham's play skilfully cross-cut between past and present, describing how the two girls met as undergraduates; how they shared a flat; how they graduated; and what had happened to them since then. Hannah had returned to London and carved out a successful career; in spite of obtaining a first-class degree, Nikki had never really achieved her ambitions. Despite their friendship, Flintham suggested that their social backgrounds determined their futures as adults; despite being intellectually inferior, Hannah was always going to be more successful than Nikki.
More importantly, Flintham's play showed how the characters could not communicate with one another, despite their protestations of friendship. When they were students, Nikki and Hannah talked about their sex lives in general terms, without actually telling each other much; their friend Ben was virtually tongue-tied. In their adult lives they were equally reticent: Hannah admitted that she knew something was wrong with Nikki, but did not ask her directly because she did not want to pry. Nikki would not divulge her secret for many years, in the belief that she was doing the right thing for Hannah and Ben. All they could say to one another was the meaningless phrase - "sorry." 
In the end we discovered that friendship counted for little when compared to self-interest. Hannah had created "a beautiful life" for herself, and was not going to allow anyone to ruin it; she ended up telling Nikki that she wanted "her life back" - with the stress placed on the personal pronoun. In the end she said goodbye to her one-time friend, by calling her "Nicola" instead of "Nikki," a sign that everything had changed. 
The title Blurred proved an apt one, referring to the characters avoided personal and emotional issues, as they sustained a facade of politeness and so-called 'friendship.'
Mary Peate's production held the attention throughout, with the various secrets cleverly revealed at different points in the action. This was Flintham's first radio play; I eagerly look forward to hearing future works from him.