The Diary of Samuel Pepys, dramatized by Hattie Naylor

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15 Minute (Woman's Hour) Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 30 January - 3 February 2012
In Hattie Naylor's very funny dramatization, Samuel Pepys (Kris Marshall) resembled a seventeenth century blogger, recording his daily encounters with the great and the good, or his neighbours and friends, his struggles with his wife Lizzir (Katherine Jakeways), as well as more mundane details of his life, such as whether he rose early, drank too much or went to bed late. As portrayed by Marshall, Pepys came across as someone who, although writing a private diary, nonetheless hoped that people would take pleasure in what he was saying, whether banal or significant.
Kate McAll's production provided a valuable social introduction to the period immediately following the Restoration - a time of political uncertainty (opponents of King Charles could still be tried and beheaded), yet also of unbridled enjoyment. Pepys and his fellow-Londoners enjoyed the opportunity to drink and make merry after the sober years of Cromwell's Interregnum (1649-1660).
At the same time we were given an insight into Pepys' personal life, as he vainly tried to impose his authority on Lizzie and his son Will (John Biddle), yet singularly failed in this task. Lizzie understood all his little ruses - such as sending her away for a rest cure with his servant Jane (Rebecca Newman), so that he could enjoy himself with his male friends. Will pretended to accept his authority, yet secretly resented it; at one point he told his father that he did not want to be treated like a slave. For all his self-righteous protestations, Pepys obviously could not live without his family, nor his faithful servant.
Kris Marshall was an entertaining Pepys, at once jaunty yet self-righteous in his vocal tone, perpetually trying to persuaded listeners to side with his point of view, however fanciful it might be. At the same time he showed considerable tenderness, especially when he had to take Lizzie to the local apothecary Mr. Hollier (Gareth Pierce), to have wax removed from her ears.
This was the third series of The Diary of Samuel Pepys, covering the year 1662; I look forward to further installments.