Negative Signs of Progress is my new trilogy of plays for BBC Radio 4 and they are on this coming week. Each play can stand alone but together they an unfolding story set against the background of the Arab Spring.
Here is set in Britain, where a husband is visited by a police officer who has a few questions about the man’s wife. What begins as a few routine questions builds into an international thriller. Over the course of the interview, the man comes to question everything he thought he knew about his relationship and the woman he loves.
There is set in a NGO in Europe. A group of strategists react to the news that one of their field workers has disappeared and may have been kidnapped. Despite their near-total inexperience, they are forced to role play scenarios in which they negotiate with the unknown kidnapper, struggling to separate truth from fiction, Aleppo from Hollywood.
Somewhere is set somewhere in the Arab World. A frightened western hostage finds herself in a beautiful library, the unwilling guest of a man of impeccable civility. The play asks how far the west and the east can understand each other, whether the Arab Spring is a projection of western liberal wish-fulfillment and – when the work of Debussy can become an act of prisoner abuse – explores how easily civilization can be a vehicle for brutality.
Negative Signs of Progress will be broadcast on 25 February (Here), 26 February (There), and 27 February (Somewhere) at 2.15pm on BBC Radio 4. It is produced by Polly Thomas at BBC Radio Cardiff.
The casts are:
Here: Tony Gardner (The Thick of It, Lead Balloon) and Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner, United 93)
There: Fenella Woolgar (Doctor Who, Vera Drake), Joseph Kloska (Made in Dagenham, Jane Eyre), and Steffan Rhodri (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Gavin & Stacey)
Somewhere: Frances Grey (Messiah, Vanity Fair), Mido Hamada (Homeland, 24)