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Woman in Mind
A 1985 play by Alan Ayckbourn, dramatised for BBC Radio 3 in 2000.
... 158 MB
... 192 kbps
Director: Pete Aitkin
Writer: Alan Ayckbourn
Susan: Julia McKenzie
Dr Bill Windsor: Jon Strickland
Andy: Jonathan Hyde
Lucy: Tilly Gaunt
Tony: Robert Hands
Gerald: Martin Jarvis
Muriel: Marcia Warren
Rick: Jamie Glover
Susan groggily awakes from a blow to the head from standing on a garden rake, to discover the family doctor Bill Windsor tending her and apparently speaking in gobbledygook. As her senses return, he leaves her to get a drink and Susan’s apparent family enter and join her in their apparently huge and perfect grounds: her husband Andy, brother Tony and daughter Lucy. All perfect, all beautiful, all a fantasy. In reality, Susan is trapped in a loveless marriage in a mundane world, as is revealed as Bill returns with Susan’s real family, her self-absorbed vicar husband Gerald and his sister, Muriel – who lives with them but is merely a burden, obsessed with her dead husband. Upon seeing them, Susan collapses again.
Having spent the night in hospital, we find Susan in the garden and begin to realise the depths of the problem between husband and wife. Her loneliness is evident, but she has a glimmer of hope as her son, Rick, who joined a cult in Hemel Hempstead and has not spoken to the family for years, is due to make a visit to the family later that day. Turning to drink both for solace with her real family and for the pleasure of her imaginary one, Susan passes out again when Rick appears and speaks to her.
She awakes to find Rick talking to her. Her joy is swiftly destroyed when he reveals he has left the cult, got married and is leaving for Thailand. Crucially, he tells Susan he does not want his wife to meet his family. Susan tells Gerald, who blames Susan. Susan’s imaginary family begins to become more prominent and to assert control over Susan’s actions. Increasingly, Susan finds herself wondering whether they are as perfect as she imagines. But despite this doubt, she is driven back to them when, crucially, Bill not only declares his long-held love for Susan, but then promptly lies about being able to see Lucy. From this point, Susan loses control of her fantasies and, in essence, suffers a complete breakdown.
Lost in her own world as she attends Lucy’s wedding, events become more grotesque and she begins speaking the same strange language she heard Bill speaking at the start of the play. Delivering a final speech, her now intertwined fantasy and real families abandon her until she is alone with just the siren light of an ambulance.
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