Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Wednesday Play - The Bond (1965)

One of two missing editions of the BBC's cornerstone drama anthology, The Wednesday Play (1964-70) discovered among British material retrieved from the US Library of Congress (the other was 'Auto Stop', 1965), 'The Bond' is something of a feminist tract from the mid-1960s. Written by Dawn Pavitt and Terry Wale and directed by Mary Ridge, one of a number of women directors working in British television in the 1960s, the play features Hannah Gordon as Sally, whose disappointment about married life following her marriage to Chris is told very much from her point of view, with several still image sequences at key points illustrating her growing sense of disillusionment.
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Stylistically the play is interesting, with a very elliptical structure at the beginning (two years of married life pass in 20 minutes of screen time) in which the narrative is conveyed largely through dialogue-free montage sequences overlaid with trad jazz music. Transmitted shortly after 'Up the Junction' (1965) had set a precedent for filmed Wednesday Plays (Tony Garnett was story editor for both plays), 'The Bond' is an example of the 'New Drama' that writer Troy Kennedy Martin had called for in his provocative 1964 polemic 'Nats Go Home'.
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While the structure makes the play seem rather fragmented, especially early on, the feminist theme - how independent women are forced to give up their freedom after marriage - comes across clearly, not only in Sally's fantasies of subservience but in her long, rousing speech at the end of the play, in which she refutes the suggestion that young people have it easy today. "It's not so easy when you've been conditioned to act out a role", she argues in a monologue which occupies the final four minutes, recorded in two long takes. Modernist in style and feminist in theme, 'The Bond' is a welcome addition to the surviving catalogue of BBC Wednesday Plays.
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