Was last night’s panto rehearsal the daftest episode ever? I know it’s a hotly-contested field. But it really was a pantomime in the classic sense of the word, with poor Eddie having to interact blue-screen style with not one but two of the silent characters. For once I could see what people mean when they say they don’t like The Archers. Linda barked directions -‘cower, you’re very frightened!’ – at Sabrina Thwaite and ‘poke her with the stick!’ at Nathan Booth. We heard nothing at all from Nathan, not even poking, though Sabrina (‘dressed most unsuitably’) was permitted to make scuttling sounds with her footstep. She even had an exchange with Eddie, which went like this:
Eddie (creepily flirting and looking into Sabrina’s doubtless plunging cleavage): ‘Can I help you up the steps Sabrina?’
Eddie: ‘No? Oh, all right then.’
The chap playing Eddie really earned his Equity minimum last night.
It reminded me slightly of a post-modern play I saw years ago at the Edinburgh Festival, ‘The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other’ which consisted of a hundred pages of stage directions and no dialogue. Being radio the Archers had to include a small amount of dialogue or it would be fifteen minutes of dead air (okay, who said that?), but basically this episode was Linda talking into the void, a cruel metaphor for her normal conversational style.
Then came the surreal end, when the imaginary Nathan Booth set Eddie up to hurl imaginary wallpaper paste into the imaginary yet luscious face of Sabrina Thwaite. Yes all right I know everyone on the Archers is imaginary (aaargh! But Santa exists, yes?), but at least they talk while they’re being imaginary. Silent slapstick is probably not in its natural setting on the radio. Sabrina however smashed down her own personal fourth wall and could be heard sobbing. It was almost Beckettian in its conception somehow. And I say this as someone who finds Beckett boring.
Posted by Qwerty