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Imagination is a sternly irrepressible force in fluctuating turbulences of Annie’s relationship with her uncle Walter, who takes her through the odyssey of maturity through his stories. Listeners who tuned in to Bailrigg Fm on the 8th June for the world premiere of first-year student Timothy Mackworth-Praed’s original radio play ‘Echoes from the Deep’ will themselves share Annie’s sentiments about Walter’s stories, especially when she asks him; “Did you really write it yourself?”
Indeed, the question cannot be avoided, as this is the first original play to be aired on Lancaster’s only student radio in over six years.
Walter’s skillful storytelling proves the pervading power of poetry when we bear in mind the Bible’s salient teaching that ‘in the beginning was the word’. The veritable vestige of the ‘word’, too often highly underestimated, can choose to frighten us or provide us comfort, as this play demonstrates. In it we recognise the familiar literary rhythms we have encountered in our lives – the fairytales, folk tales and legends educating us about the ways of the world. These sagas are channels of retreat, just as Annie naturally tends to return to them. When a playwright successfully uses the intricacies of the characters to enrich the story then he or she knows how to hit the jackpot. Writing a play for the radio is a challenge like no other; there are no lights, no smoke screens and no trickery to cover up an otherwise poor attempt at the art of writing. Performing for the radio is storytelling at its most exposed and this exemplifies it precisely.
Now for the nitty-gritty.
Prepare for the good news as we first get the fine low points out of the way. Scarcely can I deceive myself or my fellow listeners that, like this review, there are bodies of literature that require more than one stab at reading. It is fortunate that this play is available on podcast to listen again because, in reality, I felt that this story was way above and beyond my understanding . This is not light listening on a Friday night and would have done well to grab listeners midweek instead. Nevertheless, it only shows that this is a work of art that requires one’s full attention, and rightly so, because it is nothing but thought-provocation at its best, forcing us all to follow the stories in the hope that we might catch a glimpse into our own meanings.
Just as well, the play’s diverse characters helped showcase the brilliant talent of our regularly seen (now heard) student actors. Albeit the snazzy attempt at a Texan accent, the voice artists were well to do in their expressiveness and clarity of storytelling. A real sense of camaraderie occurred during the live performance with this ensemble cast. The casting was faultless and the narrator was outstanding at creating tension.
This is a highly recommended experience.
To listen again online, visit mixcloud.com and search ‘Echoes from the Deep, by Tim Mackworth-Praed.’