the tradition of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads come
Lynne Truss's male monologues: six tales of fidelity, pride,
friendship and family from the classic BBC Radio 4 series.
Six men have reached a certain age, their forty-something
years, and each has a very different - and sometimes surprising
- story to tell, from the brother who receives an unexpected
letter to a compulsive philanderer and a news photographer
sent on on an unusual assignment...
title features six more radio monologues written by Lynne
Truss, author of the best-sellers Eats, Shoots & Leaves
and Talk to the Hand. The stories in this three CD
The Father, The Son, The Husband, The
Pedant, The Brother and The Married Man.
collection kicks off with, what I thought was the most moving
out of all six, The Father. Over the 30 minutes we
get to know a man who is too worried about being like his
own father. He's proud of the fact that he's brought up his
own son totally different to the cruel way he was raised.
But, to be honest, is he just remembering the past how he
wants to? Was is his father all that bad? And does he really
listen to his own son as much as he thinks? The conclusion
is rather moving, but that's not to say that this isn't amusing
- far from it. His observations about people who feel it's
their right to become grief counsellors to people they don't
know are spot on.
second tale I found to be the least interesting. Son,
follows a news photographer as he is given a new brief. Instead
of his usual sports pictures, his editor wants him to accompany
a features writer as she interviews a number of mediums. Is
there life after death? And can these people contact the dead?
When the photographer's father keeps giving the mediums messages
to pass on to his son, he doesn't really seem surprised by
it and instead of asking sensible questions wastes the chance
he has to communicate with his father. This story features
Robert Glenister, who Frost fans will remember for
his portrayal of D.S. Reid. It wasn't Glenister's reading
that I disliked, it was just I thought that something more
could have been made of this tale.
third story, The Husband, is interesting as it raises
the point that there are always two sides to every story.
Andy, the husband, is in hospital recovering from an operation.
He seems to have put his wife on a pedestal. She doesn't visit
him in hospital, nor send him flowers. In fact he has sent
her flowers to her work. It appears that he is the world's
most devoted partner and, when he starts to open up to his
nurse, you wonder why this fantastic man stays with such a
selfish wife. He has forgone his wish to have children so
that his wife can concentrate on her career. He seems too
good to be true and maybe, just maybe, he is. As he tells
his tale, little cracks start to show in their marriage -
but is everything his selfish wife's fault? I
loved the twist in the tale to this, my favourite, story in
Pedant, revolves around a single man who gets annoyed
with people who can't do simple crosswords, and those poor
souls who make grammatical errors. His friend nominates him
for a visit from The Life Groomers - a TV show that
helps to remodel men to make them more appealing to women.
It seems the TV crew have their work cut out for them - even
his friend describes him as a "lonely, pedantic, short-tempered,
beardy weirdy". The poor guy is forced into embarrassing
social situations with totally the wrong women. He soon starts
to fall for someone on the crew, but doesn't really know what
to do about it. This is the most humorous in this collection.
The focus of this tale is a man who appears to be like a younger
version of Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave.
He certainly doesn't suffer fools gladly.
Brother sees a man receiving a letter from his older brother
which basically implies that he is coming to take over the
family business after their father dies. If this happens the
younger brother will loose everything. He starts to panic
and get angry about his sibling's insistence on calling himself
"the man of the family". He starts to go through
their history in his head, and realises why he hates his older
brother so much. But has he been a little to hasty?
the sixth, and final monologue (The Married Man), we
are introduced to a vain and self obsessed man who has affairs
behind his wife's back and thinks he is clever for getting
away with it. We soon discover that his wife is very probably
having an affair too, with Ted their friend. Could Ted even
be the father to their daughter? As he digs deeper he starts
to uncover more and then decides to confront them both. Stuart
Milligan (Adam Klaus in the BBC drama Jonathan
Creek - Series Two onwards) is wonderful
as the clueless man who is caught up so much in his own life
that he has failed to spot all the tell tale signs of his
wife's apparent long-running affair. Or at the end does this
story simply reflect our own paranoid take on the events?
sad thing is that we can all relate to all six of these characters
in some way. There are a few to many elements that you'll
recognise as character flaws with your own personality (or
maybe it's just me). There are things to love and hate about
each character; to admire and pity. At the end of the day
this is a fantastic collection of thought provoking monologues.