BBC Radio 4, 27-29 October 2010
John Dryden's three-part thriller was set and recorded in three separate
locations: the United Kingdom, the United States and India. It related three separate stories: one involving a twelve-year-old
boy Ben (Hugo Docking) whose behaviour seemed more and more erratic at his expensive boarding-school, even though he came
from a close-knit family. His teacher Timms (Henry Goodman) was so concerned that he called in Ben's mother Fiona(Natasha
Little), a single parent having to work extremely hard to support her son's education.
The second strand, set in Minnesota, focused on Jim (Brian d'Arcy James), an executive
in a clothing company owned and operated by a branch of the Christian church. Their business ethic was a simple one: while
capitalism was permissable, it had to be benevolent, working for the good of everyone. Unfortunately Jim found to his cost
that maintaining that ideal was not so easy, especially when the Church found out that most of the goods made for the company
were made by child labourers in India.
The third strand focused on an idealistic BBC Television reporter Prem Sharma (Ameet
Chana), who travelled to India to make a documentary about child labour. After rescuing a young boy and taking him back to
his village, he discovered to his cost that the reaction from the boy's mother was not what he anticipated. Prem's insatiable
curiosity - prompted as much by righteous desire as the need to find a good story - led him into the murky depths of the New
Delhi underworld, from which there could be no escape.
As the drama unfolded, so the three stories gradually intersected: we discovered
that Prem was Ben's father, while the clothing made for Jim's company was made in the factory that Prem was investigating.
The resolution of the story was a grim one: two of the protagonists died, while the third ended up mentally scarred for life
by his experiences.
The title - Severed Threads - not only referred to the story, whose complicated
threads were severed by the deaths of the protagonists, but also summed up the ways in which the protagonists' desire
to see through their respective quests became so all-encompassing that they forgot their family ties. The bonds joining them
to their wives, or their mother (in Ben's case) were gradually severed, to such an extent that they all ended up isolated.
Sometimes it's best to overlook what is happening around you, to ensure peace of mind.
John Dryden's thriller brilliantly used sound to evoke the three different continents
- the thump of the schoolboys' feet on the stairs at Ben's school, the incessant chatter of the Delhi streets, and the echoing
sounds of Jim's plush offices in Minnesota. On the other hand the story was so well told that we became uncomfortably aware
how every action has its consequences - often in ways which the perpetrators could never anticipate.