You Choose by Jonathan Myerson


Zoe                 Amanda Root
Simon            Nathaniel Parker
Greg              Jonathan Cullen
Stella             Geraldine Fitzgerald
Nick                Nicholas Hutchison
Jenny             Federay Holmes
Lord Harry     Jonathan Adams
Emma            Sandra James-Young

First broadcast in 1993 for BBC Radio 4’s  ‘Saturday Night Theatre’

Review of Play
Hmm.. what to make of this play… Was it a crime thriller?  Was it a comment on political and social issues? Was it an exploration of one woman’s role and purpose in life? 

Although I found myself engrossed for much of the time, there were no definite answers to these and many other questions raised during its 90 minutes. And it wasn’t a relaxing play, in fact it was tense throughout pretty well the whole thing and there were few, if any, light moments at all.  

The main character then is Zoe; a young marketing executive whose career was on the up and who seemed to have the quality of life she wanted.  While travelling on the Tube, she bumps into ex-lover and fellow idealist from their student days, Simon.  He has actually been following her for a week or two and tells her that he’ll send her footage of something that has been causing him great distress.  Simon has long been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, and was previously Sectioned and detained in a psychiatric hospital.

That same evening, a man wearing Simon’s jacket and containing some of his papers, throws himself under a train at the end of the Northern Line.  Reading about it in the next day’s Evening Standard, Zoe telephones the number Simon gave her, which turns out to be a crematorium…  She subsequently attends his funeral and finds the only other person there is Stella, Simon’s wife whom he met while she too was undergoing psychiatric treatment …and Simon is watching from a distance. Weirder and weirder.

Simon has been gathering evidence to write a book about his father’s links with corrupt and immoral working practices in 3rd World countries.  Lord Harry is a holocaust survivor, prominent industrialist and Labour peer. Simon’s revelations, just as the company is about to be floated on the stock exchange, will cause huge damage.

Much to her disbelief, after he’s supposedly dead and cremated, Simon phones Zoe and they agree to meet secretly so he can inform her of his findings.  Still with me? 

At first she doesn’t want to know because it makes her feel uncomfortable about her lifestyle, and she isn’t sure if Simon is being just, well.. paranoid, as she knows he’s stopped taking his medication.  But after she and Simon become lovers again, her involvement intensifies to the point where they go together to steal documentary evidence. 

Zoe becomes increasingly erratic and “scared of everything”, quits her high-flying job and confronts Lord Harry.  He is unfazed by Simon’s allegations and suggests she, by her day to day modern lifestyle, bears some community responsibility for the plight of the unseen lives.

He also startles her with the revelation that Simon actually is dead… and that his suicide note from him arrived the day after his death under the train.

Feeling trapped, that she has no hope and no choices or beliefs, Zoe aborts her boyfriend Greg’s child without his knowledge – this at least, she reasons, is something she has chosen to do.

This play has many imponderables and no clear resolutions, meaning both myself and my daughter, who came to the British Library with me to hear it, for the most part found it rather annoying and somehow irritating.   

But then maybe that was it.. as the title implies, it’s a case of the writer saying to the listener, in effect, “You Choose”…

Review of Nat’s Performance
Playing someone with paranoid schizophrenia would require some thoughtful preparation, and Nat’s close connection with the medical profession would have been very useful for sure.  He’s very convincing too as he passes through several moods, emotions and states of mind, beginning with a somewhat distracted, ‘complete nutter’ characterisation, then moving on to talking very quietly, mostly to himself in a scarily, very quiet manner.

As he’s taking footage with the camcorder (that he stole from under the nose of the assistant in one of his father’s shops) Nat shows Simon to be troubled and disturbed.  But his commentary as he’s filming reminded me of the style of a documentary journalist. 

After Simon has supposedly killed himself, it’s all different; Nat now behaves in a completely normal, rational and logical manner, explaining his threat of exposure of the father who, as a boy, he worshipped but has since become totally disillusioned by. He’s convinced the ensuing bad publicity for his business empire will force his father’s hand. 

Later he becomes frightened and very intense, telling of his conspiracy theory.  Nat portrays him as angry and passionate, almost losing it, as he urges Zoe to join him in “doing something”. 

Nat’s role finishes with him calmly insisting, now he’s ready to go public, that Zoe goes without him to confront his father.

Not Issued

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