Striptease by Georges Simenon, adapted by Ronald Frame

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BBC Radio 4, 17 December 2010
Set in a seedy Cannes nightclub in 1958, Striptease tells the story of an apparently innocent nineteen-year-old Maude (Nicola-Jo Cully) who says that she has never stripped in public before and who needs to taste the experience as a means of acquring self-knowledge. The story turns into an All About Eve-like tale of the ingenue gradually worming her way into the emcee Leon's (Simon Tait's) affections and taking over as the star with her faux-naif routine. Along the way she exploits her fellow-workers including to such an extent that they fear they will be fired if they raise any objection. Eventually one of them - Solita (Claire Knight) - goes slightly paranoid, turning a gun on herself and ending up dead in a river outside Nice.
While the setting was intended to be late 50s France, director Bruce Young allowed the actors to speak with cockney accents, making ity seem as if the location was rather London's Windmill Theatre ("we never close," being its famous slogan), with emcee coming across as a downmarket Vivian Van Damme figure. Perhaps the setting was not especially significant:: Young seemed more interested in the stripper's trade, which had both physical and emotional effects. The women not only removed their clothes; their emotions were laid bare in a stark drama revealing the petty jealousies, rivalries and greed lurking at the heart of the "revue" industry. Above all, we were shown just how tawdry the women's lives were - although offering the promise of sexual gratification on stage, they had a precarious existence. Once their looks had dissipated, they were cast out like used light-bulbs to eke out a miserable existence on their own. Even Maude, the new belle of the the ball would become a has-been in the end; like Solita, she would be both literally and figuratively washed up in the river of life.

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