Radio 4 is recently aired its dramatisation of The Confidential Agent, a novel by Graham Greene. Greene wrote this work in 1938, a particularly unsettled period of British history, and the piece is flecked with an uncertainty that reflects the reality of this period.
The first episode opens with Edgar Domniguez (Alun Raglan) setting the scene as he travels by boat from Spain to England.
Edgar’s Spanish lilt is a pleasure to listen to, and we hear it a lot throughout the episode as he narrates between sections of dialogue, ensuring that the drama is fast-paced and action-packed: a true thriller.
The story is set at the time of the Spanish Civil War and the listener soon finds out that Edgar’s purpose in England is to secure a load of coal for use by the Republicans in their battle against the National Front in Spain.
Edgar’s mission is understandably undercover and the episode tracks his attempts to fulfil his goal. It becomes evident, however, that the National Front are aware of Edgar’s actions through the various traps that are laid for him.
Unfortunately, I found that these traps were rather easy to anticipate and, consequently, the shock-factor was somewhat lost on me. It would be interesting to know whether the director or the author was to blame for this. The crafting of the drama is clever, with the listener plunged straight into the action from the first word, before gradually being given more detail (for example, about Edgar’s background) as the tale progresses.
The acting is generally good, although some of the characters do have a tendency to resort to stereotypical interpretations of their parts. For instance, Mr Kaye (John Bowler), a member of the Republican Party, delivers every line to Edgar on their meeting in the same menacing tone.
This lack of variation makes his character rather one-dimensional. Overall, however, the episode does an effective job of gripping the listener, and the cliff-hanger ending leaves you desperate for the next episode.
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