Darling is described as “an ode to magic and messy queerness” and this audio play certainly lives up to this.
Personally, audio plays are not my first choice of theatrical content to seek out; however, this piece is beautifully put together. David Hoyle’s delivery is pitch perfect and the subtle sound design that accompanies the piece really adds gravitas.
This radio play is a glorious window into the life of a queer protagonist. While listening, my imagination lights up with the imagery that this script is brimming with. It is simply magnificent and you can’t help but to be swept up and along with its narrative. Early on in the piece, I am struck by an enchanting sequence about flying and the ‘twinge’ and I can’t help but picture a perfect physical theatre sequence performed on a sparsely populated stage.
What I imagine is a split scene with the protagonist soliloquising while an intricate physical memory sequence ensues beyond. The writing lends itself so beautifully to choreography and I can visualise the entire show. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if this text doesn’t at some point find its way onstage it would be a genuine tragedy because it has a wealth of exceptional and exquisitely written scenes and sequences that would leave the audiences breathless.
The school sequence is strangely beautiful yet heart-breaking. The non binary approach used within the production seems to somehow expose the chauvinistic patriarchy of past practices, yet also portray it in a beautiful sepia, almost nostalgic way. It takes all of the magic and charm of Peter Pan and Never Neverland and applies it to brutal real-life scenarios in a seamless and stylistic manner.
The sequence within Kensington Garden’s is magical, harrowing and enlightening all at once. The idea of the construction of the self and, more importantly, the acceptance of the self, where acceptance had not been forthcoming from family or society, was powerful.
The blurred lines between the game of pretend, or the pretending to pretend, was an excellent reflection of the real-life murkiness that comes along with real-world relationships. The highly involved language is mixed with an exploration of the white supremacist hetero-patriarchy in a way that is enchanting and accessible to all audiences.
This script is brilliantly written and executed with charm and wit. While there is a level of gritty and brutal storytelling regarding the protagonists real-life horror stories, they are always framed with childlike mysticism which makes the landing of the metaphors used all the heavier and more heart-breaking.
Darling is a free to access radio play, available to listen to now at 45North online.