The Glamour
By
Christopher Priest

Janet Whitaker (director)

Christopher Priest (adaptation)

Tilly Vosburgh (Susan)

Nathaniel Parker (Richard)

Linus Roache (Niall)

Melanie Hudson (Neighbour)

BBC Radio 4 The Monday Play, April 4, 1993

Review of Play
This story is told through the eyes of Susan Kewley, a woman who has the ability to make herself invisible whenever she wants to. She broods over the last weeks of her love-life. Yep the audience bears another flash-back narration technique here, and yes, we do have a case of amnesia amongst us, too. Susan had a boyfriend (Niall) who himself prefers to stay invisible most of the time. Folks like Sue and Naill have a "glamour", meaning a sort of charm. They live on the fringes of normal society, stealing and breaking into houses. No wonder - when nobody is able to see your body, you might do as well what you want, right? So, great go on…. Folks who have the glamour are able to see the visible and invisible world and hide from the eyes of the visible world. How convenient, especially in times when people tend to believe only in what they are able to see. These poor fellows are unable to notice Naill and Susan. Niall by the way is really cool, because he can hide even from people who have the glamour, a super-glamorous person if you'd like.

One fine day Susan meets Richard Grey while spending an evening in a pub with her boyfriend Niall. She's already fed up with him, he drinks too much and mostly wreaks havoc in the visible world. Susan chats Richard up. He seems to be interested in Susan, eventually they become lovers. Niall is being dropped and seeks his revenge on Susan by following the new couple everywhere. I mean literally, he even seems to be present when they make love. Of course, Susan is reluctant to tell Richard about her invisible ex-friend and her own ability to vanish.

Of course things get worse, Susan who starts acting paranoid (or isn't she?) is forced to tell Richard about Niall and his stalking. Richard is unable to believe her, but after a short deja-vu romantic meeting between Sue and Naill (yes, she felt sooooo misunderstood by Richard, time to have a short revival) jealous Niall beats Richard up. Richard leaves the apartment in a hurry. Unfortunately there's a terrorist car-bomb attack and Richard is running right into the thick of it. He survives, has to stay in hospital for months to recover. In the end it seems as if Susan is finally able to get rid of Niall. Facing her ex-lover for one last time, she manages to start a future for her and Richard. Niall vanishes into oblivion.

Sounds weird? It is. I told you about the plot, now please consider: The whole story is told backwards, because Richard suffers from amnesia (does he really?) and can't remember anything Susan tells him. But she helps him remembering. To be honest, I can't tell you what this story is about. Is Susan mad, I mean are there invisible people, or is she chasing her own demons? Is Richard aware, did he realize that there are invisible people? Is Naill really gone for good? How will things turn out after this play's unsatisfactory end? Not that I am too keen to listen to more of this... honestly. It would have been nice to have an ending to this.

 

What really bucks me off is the fact that the praised novel (that has been adapted for this play by the novel's author Christopher Priest) doesn't make it as a radio play. There's simply no point to this radio story and as far as I understand there are harsh interleaves like a raping scene. I felt that Susan's self-centred style of narration (train of thought) was tiring and the story didn't make much sense to me. If you are curious to get to know how this play was being recorded, please read here. Interested in learning more about Christopher Priest? Please read here.



Review of Nat's reading
Richard (a former BBC film cameraman) is a nice role and seems to be truly in love with Susan. He is a calm
character, but gets nervous as Susan confesses her secrets to him. Unable to believe in what he cannot see, he has to take physical blows to realize that there are more things between heaven and earth… Nat's portrayal is convincing, also his doubtfulness, when it comes to Susan's abilities. The whole radio play plot is a dead duck and it hurts to see Nat's talent go to waste. A good performance, but unfortunately in a below average production.

Unpublished, not available.

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