The other 50th anniversary of genre importance commemorated in late November last year was the death of C.S. Lewis, and BBC Northern Ireland commissioned three short audios about wardrobes and Northern Ireland. They are extraordinary.
The Belle Dress, by Lucy Caldwell, read by Kerr Logan, is perhaps the best of the three, about a child growing up in Belfast with gender dysphoria. It’s just a vivid description of a couple of turning point moments, but tremendously well done and very moving.
Tilly’s Tale, by Glenn Patterson, read by Michelle “Catelyn Stark” Fairley, is nearly as good, marred slightly by jarring disco music in the framing narrative which is completely irrelevant to the real story – a tale of marital wardrobe sex, body-swapping and domestic abuse which is very eloquent in what is left unsaid.
Finally, The Rosy Rural Ruby, by Frank Cottrell Boyce, takes C.S. Lewis himself to the afterlife through a wardrobe, for a literary confrontation with Amanda McKittrick Ros (surely a bit of an in-joke). The story itself is the weakest of the three, but it is tremendously lifted by David Troughton’s spirited reading, doing Lewis, God, Tolkien, Roger Lancelyn Green, McKittrick Ros and Joy Gresham with utter conviction, and it’s great fun to listen to.
I’m sorry I missed these at the time, but glad I caught up with them in the end. Full marks to producer Heather Larmour for getting these made.