Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, 28 September 2012
Arthur Stanley Jefferson, better known as Stan Laurel (James Anthony Pearson), began his career in the British music-hall during the 1900s. This was a brave decision, in view of the fact that his father AJ, a theatre manager himself (John Paul Hurley), was vehemently opposed to his son's decision, believing that stand-up comedy was too insecure a profession for a shy, intelligent lad.
However Arthur found an ally in his mother Madge (Alexandra Mathie), a bed-ridden woman over-reliant on her companion Eunice (Ann Louise Ross), but fanatically devoted to her son. She encouraged him in his decision, even though by doing so she sacrificed her relationship to him. Madge liked her son to wait hand on foot on her at all times; once he had graduated to the stage,
Colin Hough's play portrayed Arthur as a slightly diffident personality - someone who seemed temperamentally thoroughly unsuited for the music-hall. However things turned out better than Arthur anticipated, the persona he cultivated in the theatre was much the same as that portrayed on celluloid many years later, when Arthur transformed himself into Stan Laurel.
Gaynor MacFarlane's production contained the odd linguistic anachronism (would an Edwardian man have said "I'll be there in five" to his companion?), but was redeemed somewhat by a thoroughly entertaining central performance from Pearson as Arthur, coupled with an historically accurate song (composed by Eoin Millar and played by David McGuinness).