Elizabeth Bowen's 'The Heat of the Day' (R4 Classic Serial)
Actually this is a radio adaptation of Pinter's 1990 TV screenplay adaptation of Bowen's novel. Shame on me, I'm not familiar with this particular Bowen novel, but maybe that's just as well, since this has Pinter's stamp on it though and though, so the question of its closeness to the spirit of the original novel should perhaps be left to one side. One can see why he was drawn to the original though - Pinter's typically elliptical and spare dialogue exploring favourite themes of menace, betrayal and uncertainty in wartime London. It's a classy production (from Catherine Bailey), and wonderfully suited to radio, Bowen's exposition being replaced by a suitably laconic narrator*. Anna Chancellor is excellent as Stella.
Part 1 (of 2)
* A big problem in radio drama is trying to prevent any neutral narrator not becoming one of the protagonists. Arguably, the narrative voice should have been female (as Bowen). Difficult call, either way.
Last edited by Russ; 31-10-11 at 00:38.
I enjoyed Bowen's novel The Last September and some of the short stories she wrote, though I'm not familiar with The Heat of the Day. She has an elegant and understated style but with a kind of suppressed intensity, imo. I didn't recognise much of her style in this adaptation, though - as you say, definitely more the mark of Pinter. I didn't think the narrator intruded too much, though quite a few of the voiced stage directions seemed superfluous. The radio voices were very good and I look forward to the second part.