The third in a series of four BBC Radio full-cast dramas exploring the disjuncture between the man who was Eric Blair and the writer who was George Orwell. An acclaimed author and political commentator, Orwell is very hard to pin down. He is a complex mass of confusions - an anti-establishment, pro-English, ex-Etonian ex-policeman, and socialist, who was ardently anti-authoritarian.
He was as anti-fascist as he was anti-communist, a former Spanish Civil War soldier who was anti-war but pro the Second World War. This play tells the story of his relationship with his wife and some of the other women in his life.
Written by Jonathan Holloway. With Joseph Millson and Lyndsey Marshal. Produced by Kate McAll.
I doubt I share a single political opinion with Orwell, although it's interesting to speculate where he'd have landed had he lived longer. But I bow to no one in my admiration of the man, for his courage, consistency and above all the crystalline clarity of his writing.
This piece, and its companions (Burma, Dreaming, Jura etc.) present Orwell "warts and all". He's no plaster saint. In particular, his behavior to the women in his life was inexcusably awful.
Notwithstanding that, these pieces give an insight into - as the title suggests - the "Real Orwell". They take you beyond a dry , academic view of his writing and thought to think of the vulnerabilities that formed him.
There's not a bad performance in this series. Having said that, the actors performing George Klopp and Eileen Blair/Orwell/O'Shaughnessy deserve particular congratulation - in the latter case, it's easy to appreciate the warmth that an austere character like Orwell would have loved.
A must for any admirer of Orwell's work, and an invaluable insight into one of the 20th century's great personalities.
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