Emily Shen

Content note: This article discussion of death and a brief mention of rape.

In the last few weeks, the ADC Theatre has proved that Cambridge’s theatre scene has kept its dauntless spirit more alive than ever, despite the almost dramatic times we are living in. Instead of closing its doors to the public, the ADC chose to open them even wider, by streaming its unflagging activity online.

“Venable’s writing remains catchy all the way to the end”

Sorry For Your Loss is in itself a premiere and a premier show, as it brings the genre of radio plays back to the fore, as well as scaling the heights of Cambridge’s theatre. Listening to this dark domestic tragedy involves giving your consent to being shocked: there is not much commiseration in the play, but rather disturbing allegations which pull no punches. Joe Venable created a script which shamelessly contradicts the aphorism “Speak no ill of the dead”, as it presents Sam Woodburn’s desire to desecrate his old school peer’s grave, after paying his family half a million dollars. The dark side of the story does not stop here, as Sam also reveals some appalling truths about the deceased to his grieving parents. They soon find out that their beloved son was no more than a rapist, an ill-bred, despicable young man. Venable’s writing remains catchy all the way to the end, constantly sending shockwaves to the audience and making them ponder: Sorry for the loss or regret for the victim? Moreover, as we see how close the father is to accepting Sam’s money, we are inclined to question his sorrow, just as his wife does. The play does not stand out for being that outrageous and dark, but instead for its psychological side. The audience is shocked by the unveiling of the characters’ true colours. Both those of the protagonist in absentia and, of his father, as the story ends with the parents’ estrangement.

“The show is, indeed, a thoughtful one as it makes us reflect on levels of grief and guilt”


Mountain View

Sorry For Your Loss: a demonically dark, domestic tragedy

The actors’ performance was noteworthy, as it was a challenge from the beginning: they managed to encapsulate all the physical suggestion from a stage show using only their voices. Lena’s tonality (portrayed by Amy Lever) always managed to point to her anguish, and her ability to gradually shift from a rather inconspicuous agony to voiced woe deserves merit. William Batty seems to establish a trend of assertive fathers in his roles, having embodied slightly similar characters in Pygmalion and A View From The Bridge. He also does it exceptionally in this radio show thanks to his sharp, severe timbre, capable to express strong revulsion. On the other hand, Ben Galvin’s (Sam’s) steady intonation, even when unfolding the harshest and more painful truths, provides the performance with a more realistic and dark allure. Jonny Wiles plays a friendly priest, who manages to be the brightest character in a world of gloom. He adopts a relaxed, ludic intonation that helps the audience endure the overall atmosphere of the show.

Sam MacDonald’s music arms the listeners with a melancholic vibe. Nevertheless, apart from the show’s theme song, there is not enough music in this radio play. Since any visual tool of theatre is removed in this genre, resorting to more acoustic strategies would have added to the production’s value, which is otherwise very high.

Sorry For Your Loss is brought to a close with the father’s last reply – “I’m sorry”, even if this time, it is no longer “for the loss”. The show is, indeed, a thoughtful one as it makes us reflect on levels of grief and guilt. You will definitely not be disappointed if you give it a chance, and, you will probably also give it a round of applause, this time, at your complete convenience.