Aunt Julia & The Scriptwriter
Written by Mario Vargas Llosa

Tom Hollander
Siobhan Redmond
John Sessions
Alex Lowe

Radio Listings

Aunt Julia & The Scriptwriter


Independent, The (London)
By Robert Hanks
Sep 6, 1996  

Which brings us to Thursday nights at 11 o'clock, which for some reason is decreed to be a suitable time to broadcast the more literate drama serial: at the moment, a funny adaptation of Mario Vargas Llosa's Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. Tom Hollander is the narrator, Mario, a young would-be novelist who runs the news service on a Lima radio station. Mario is on the run from reality: at work he is forever trying to rein in his assistant, who loves to run headlines about earthquakes and homicides. His composure is disturbed by the arrival of two Bolivians (you can tell they're Bolivian because they have Scottish accents): his aunt, the divorcee Julia (Siobhan Redmond), and Pedro Camacho (John Sessions), a dwarfish writer who has been hired to beef up the radio station's many soap operas.

There are things to quibble with in Lee Hall's script and Sally Avens' production - mainly the way that different voices cut irritatingly into the narration; but mostly it gets the right tone of slightly heightened reality, emphasising the similarities between "real" life and the life of the soap operas which interrupt the narrative, without erasing the line between them. It's just straightforwardly good; which leaves you wondering why it has to be broadcast late at night when the audiences aren't around. Put it on a Wednesday lunchtime, and confuse the hell out of everybody.





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