Gondal
by
Martin Wade

Directed by
Cherry Cookson

First broadcast 21st December 1992 BBC Radio 4

The Cast
Nathaniel Parker............Fernando
Janet Maw.....................Emily Brontë
Diana Quick..................Augusta
John Rowe....................Lord Eldred
Clive Francis.................Alfred
Linda Polan...................Tabitha
Moir Leslie....................Angelica
David Thorpe................Alexander/Douglas
Keith Drinkel.................Parry/King Julius
Annabelle Lanyon..........Young Emily
Eric Allen......................Gerald
Bernadette Windsor.......Young Charlotte/Young Augusta
Jill Lidstone...................Young Branwell


Review of Play
Based on the lives of the Brontë family, this is a drama running in two parallel strands, which at times were difficult to distinguish. (I also found the interspersed 'sounds' from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop rather annoying.) Using her family as inspiration, Emily Brontë is writing the saga of the inhabitants of the fictional Pacific island of Gondal.

It's a somewhat heavy story of political intrigue, war, mysterious parentage, confused identities, betrayal, jealousy and rivalry. Involved with all this is Fernando, who one day appears as a "dirty and ragged, olive-skinned and black-haired" child. Fernando grows into a handsome youth hopelessly infatuated with an older woman, Augusta. She is the king's adopted daughter and the whole thing, unsurprisingly, ends in tragedy.

Review of Nat's Performance
Although he doesn't have very many lines, yet again Nat does his very best with what he does have, and goes through moods and emotions totally convincingly.

He makes a very plausible sulky, stroppy 16-year old - described as "shallow and self-complacent". At this point in the play, I nearly fell off my chair in the British Library's listening booth in a swoon, because Nat begins to sing absolutely beautifully and without a bum note for a full thirty seconds (yes, I timed it!) Uh! Although it was a dirge, I would almost kill to have a copy at home of this play, for those thirty seconds alone ..!

Anyway… we move on..

Nat as Fernando, pines for Augusta as she plans and schemes her own life that isn't to include him or his daughter, about whom he knows nothing. Going into a decline, Nat portrays Fernando now as angry, sarcastic, desperate and vengeful.

Fernando is outlawed and exiled and Nat shows how he's turned vicious and violent. He goes to make an attempt on the life of the treacherous Augusta, but the poor tormented young man is unable to carry it through. We hear no more from Fernando as he has taken his own life. But he is avenged by Angelica, the woman who truly loved him all this time.

Nat, though, is to be heard just once more… as the vicar saying a few words over the grave at Emily Bronte's funeral.

Not my favourite of Nat's radio plays (save his singing…) but playing a handsome, romantic hero of uncertain origin, who commits suicide after a hopeless love affair, he can't go wrong…!

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