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This is a play about a woman under the age of 40 who’s dying of cancer. The harsh directness of these words stays true to the frank way in which the central character Lizzie (played by Olivia Colman) handles an early scare, the diagnosis of an aggressive breast cancer and the subsequent spread of the disease into her brain.
But this is so much more than just another Radio 4 “cancer story”. It’s a funny, vital and warm glimpse into the lifelong friendship of two women — Lizzie and Jen (played by Natascha McElhone) — and how the illness pulls them together at first and then almost drives them apart as it takes hold of Lizzie’s body.
Every single moment of this drama is exquisitely conceived, written, acted and directed, from the empathetic dialogue crafted by Morwenna Banks to the short but frequent moments of silence when the listener is left to register the full effect of the scene that has just concluded.
The supporting cast are impeccable and include Alison Steadman and John Simm, as well as Banks’s own children. One of them, her daughter Dolly Banks-Baddiel, sings the song that weaves throughout the play — the haunting
I Will Follow You into the Dark
by Death Cab for Cutie.
I have never been so moved by a radio drama, nor so impressed by every aspect of a production. This is definitely my programme of the year — perhaps even of my life.
By Morwenna Banks. Young mother Lizzie has breast cancer and is finding comfort and support in her oldest friend Jen, who promises to help her get through the stages of her treatment. As Lizzie struggles to cope with the impact of the disease, Jen decides to keep a secret of her own from her pal for the first time in their lives; but as the pair discover their days together are drawing short, they realise parting ways might be the hardest challenge they have ever faced. Drama, starring Olivia Colman and Natascha McElhone.
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