The Cambridge Geek

The Red
The Red

I've not been to any of Marcus Brigstocke's individual shows, but I've listened to enough of him on Radio 4 over the years (in the Now Show, or in his Big Society among others) to get the idea that he might have a slightly addiction-prone personality. That re-frames this drama of his as a dive into a tortured struggle with booze, rather than a simple work of fiction.

The play is staged as a conversation between a recovering (recovered?) alcoholic and his father, in his father's wine cellar, just after his father's funeral. Having been gifted a bottle of Ch√Ęteau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux in his father's will, Benedict (Rufus Jones), having been sober for 25 years, has to decide whether to accede to the request of his late father (David Calder) and drink it.

So begins a painful dredge through his history, which it would be reasonable to assume draws heavily on Brigstocke's own, painting a terrible image of a childhood nearly destroyed through excessive drinking. Though sprinkled throughout with "purple" prose praising the allure of wine.

I'm not much of a fan of straight drama, being the sort of childish person who needs a robot or alien to draw me away from comedy, but this was potent stuff. The tightly written conversation is gripping and the emotional depth of the events described within kept me listening intently. (Though it also caused me to find myself wanting a glass of merlot, which is both testament to the skill of the writing, and a good reason to not listen to it on a bus.)

(Or while driving.)

I don't know if Brigstocke has done other serious works, but I think I'm going to have to give him a google and see what comes up. It's possible this is his one serious piece, having been working up to it for quite a long time, but I'd certainly give his next a listen.

(Perhaps unsurprisingly, it also won a BBC Audio Drama Award.

Score 5

Tagged: Radio Drama Two hander Fiction Family/Relationships