BBC Radio 3, 18 February 2012
Simon (Tim McInnerny) and Jean (Harriet Walter) resemble two unattractive
ships that pass in the night. Simon is an hopeless alcoholic working in an insurance company who cannot admit to himself that
his life lies in ruins. Desperately trying to achieve some kind of self-respect, he protests enduring love for his
wife Paula (Lia Williams), and children Philip (Olly Bell) and Dawn (Susanna Dye), while trying to pair off with every other
woman he encounters, whether drunk or sober. Jean is a reformed alcoholic cultivating a self-reliant facade, yet unable to
recover from the loss of her female companion to cancer. Her loneliness finds its expression either in banter or cutting remarks
directed in Simon's direction. While protesting that she can live perfectly well without him hanging around, we understand
the opposite; she needs him just as much as he needs her.
While That I Should Rise explores the consequences of alcoholism for sufferers
and their loved ones alike, it is no Lost Weekend-type drama. Author Kennedy is more interested in the protagonists'
search for self-respect, which can only be achieved by admitting their frailties and setting aside the desire
for any kind of crutch (for example, drink). For Simon and Jean alike, this process requires them to savour the
moment rather than reflect on their past or future existences. The play ends with the two of them together in a car, agreeing
- at least tentatively - to pursue this course of action.
Mark Smalley's production comprised a series of short, often unpleasant sequences,
full of heavy breathing, drunken laughter and the sound of clinking glasses - sounds that summed up the self-destructive aspects
of Simon's life. McInnerny coped well with a difficult role that covered a considerable emotional range, from maudlin
sentimentality to extreme anger. Walter tried to sustain a calm, collected exterior, but her basic unhappiness kept breaking