Chiwawa

45 minute BBC Radio drama (from 2014) in which a well known author is embarrassingly “outted” for having posted on-line reviews (under the user name “chiwawa”) — reviews not only praising his own books, but dissing the books of competing writers. So his good-hearted personal assistant (Pippa Nixon) is offered a deal (and pressured) to falsely claim she was responsible for the posts.

A kind of quietly low-key drama/social satire that feels like it takes the themes of some old tale about morals and mores and rephrases it for the modern world — as if G.B. Shaw had written a play about the internet and 21st Century celebrity! Good performances (the cast including Fenella Woolgar and Michael Bertenshaw) and sharp, clever dialogue makes it all crisp and clippie — it’s a drama, but the sly dialogue is also quite witty. My main quibble is one of production — some of the voices of the female actors are similar to each other, so I had (a bit of) trouble distinguishing characters in some scenes. But other than that — quite good. Script writer Melissa Murray also wrote the radio play Theremin which I also quite liked.

Theremin

1 hr BBC Radio drama from 2009 written by Melissa Murray, starring Tom Hollander and Kate Ashfield. It’s an odd drama in that it’s a mix of espionage and character drama, about real-life Russian inventor and musician, Leon Theremin. In 1929 London he’s acting as a spy for the Soviet Union but finding himself increasingly caught in the middle between his Soviet masters and British and American authorities — and of his strained relationship with an English girl and musician who both loves and hates him.

An effective, interesting drama, well acted, with a nice sense of period and its mix of (low-key) suspense and human drama. But I describe it as “odd” simply because I’m not really sure how much (or if at all) this is based on any sort of factual history! And if entirely fictional, seems like an odd premise (Writer: “Hey, let’s do a drama where Leon Theremin is actually a spy!” Programmer: “Um…who?”) Still, as I say: quite effective and compelling in a kind of Graham Greene sort of way.