The Wire on BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3, 1 September 2012
Set in a dystopian Preston, sometime in the future, Lavinia Murray's drama told the story of sixteen-year-old George, a politically motivated youngster who has been taken up by a mysterious group of eco-warriors called the Pro-Arkwrights. His mother Miram (Suranne Jones), desperately tries to find him, but finds herself drawn into a mysterious world in which a hoodie on a scooter called Puck (Chris Finnegan) appears to exert a mysterious authority.
Using a combination of eerie sound-effects (by Eloise Whitmore) and disturbing music (John Nicholls), Melanie Harris' production conjured up a world where the elements took revenge on human beings for ruining the environment. In the past forest had been cut down, deserts populated, rivers filled in a desperate desire for lebensraum; now human beings were regarded as fuel to help sustain the world's natural balance. They seem powerless to intervene: everyone has asthma and birds keep mysteriously dropping out of the sky.
There was a strong sense of inevitability about this play - despite Miriam's best intentions, it was clear that the search for her son would be futile. Even when she did find him, there was little or no guarantee that he would return to her; he was dedicated to the pro-ArkWrights. Lemn Sissay's sonorous narration added to this sense of doom; it seemed that he knew what was going to happen already.
Some eco-dramas are designed to warn human beings of the consequences of destroying the environment: The Ballad of the Burning Boy went beyond that by suggesting that human destruction was inevitable. A very disturbing piece.