008 Horror – Old
Radio 4 Extra can always be relied upon to serve up helpings of fearful radio horror. We reached back to 1991 for an episode of Fear on Four, “Dead Men’s Boots.” I’ve become a connoisseur of Fear on Four/Appointment with Fear, but I prefer to sample each one as it comes back up on the archive rather than trying to listen to them all at once. Written by William Ingram and starring Sean Barrett and Jane Whittenshaw (with, of course, Edward De Souza as the Man in Black), what struck me first of all about this was how similar it was, in some ways, to other classics of the genre. Hysterical woman being menaced by something others can’t take seriously? Check. Loving husband who may or may not be culpable? Check. Despite that, and the very middle class-ness of the couple, I found this riveting, and it stayed in my mind for days after. A married couple get a house cheap. In a papered-over cupboard, they find a pair of old boots; inside them, a newspaper clipping about a terrible murder. The wife gets obsessed with the boots, and eventually they realize that the woman was murdered in the same house. Very spooky and creepy, and good performances, too.
For something completely different Adventures of the Soul by Liz Mickery from 2012, another play that stayed with me for a long time after I had heard it. Starring Helen Bradbury, John Hollingsworth, Lucas Smith and directed by Melanie Harris, this play is the story of Claire. Her dad had recently died, leaving her his house, yet they weren’t close. Her husband has just said he’s leaving her; they were going to sell the house and now she’s not so sure. An Eastern European man comes to read her meter and vanishes in the cellar. She starts hearing radio static voices (though she can’t understand them). She goes to the police, who think she’s under duress; she talks to her mother who can’t help her. Finally, she goes to a private investigator, Philip, who doesn’t believe her and yet can’t let her go without trying to help her. They make a very unlikely pair of investigators, and what really made this play was how real both of these protagonists were—there was nothing cutesy or predictable about anything they said or did. Really unusual and riveting story.