Michael Frayn's Matchbox Theatre

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010120151127

Michael Frayn: the most comic philosophical writer of our time. An all-star cast has great fun with Frayn's hilarious view of us all. And of how we attempt to communicate.

In this opening episode, we hear Joanna Lumley and Roger Allam as stone effigies in a cathedral talking to each other like an old married couple. (Well, they've been together several hundred years. Nothing much changes.)

Then there's the younger couples - Charles Edwards and Sophie Winkleman bickering over who should finish who's sentences, and Lisa Dillon and Alex Jennings on the irritations that occur when discussing an apparently simple decision - whether or not to accept a kind invitation.

Martin Jarvis has trouble with a rarefied type of cold-calling - how to tell someone they've won a Nobel Prize. And we have an excerpt from a documentary on a species of creature that scurries and scuttles in the darkness. The wild life narrator sounds suspiciously like Sir David Attenborough. (It is.)

This four-part series is Theatre in miniature. Short entertainments based on Frayn's recently acclaimed book, Matchbox Theatre. His brand new collection, now on the radio - the theatre of the listener's imagination. Set design, ice-cream sales, packet of nuts, where to sit - it's up to you. Just sit back and enjoy.

Episode 1 cast: Charles Edwards, Sophie Winkleman, Joanna Lumley, Roger Allam, Lisa Dillon, Alex Jennings, David Attenborough, Martin Jarvis

Written by Michael Frayn

Producer: Rosalind Ayres

Director: Martin Jarvis

A Jarvis and Ayres production for BBC Radio 4.

0220151204

Michael Frayn - the most comic philosophical writer of our time. An all-star cast has great fun with Frayn's hilarious view of us all. People talking. To each other, to the world at large, to themselves. Explaining. Heard, overheard, half-heard.

In Episode 2, we eavesdrop on two strangers in a café. Patricia Hodge is the women who can't get names right. Joanna Lumley, listening in at the next table, longs to correct her. Adam Godley becomes increasingly obsessive in a doctor's surgery. Matthew Wolf, attending a lecture on words, doesn't care for the phrase 'if you like'. Sophie Winkleman and Charles Edwards, trying to find their destination, have 'WIC' - that's 'Words in Car'. Stephen Fry is a politician who believes he has mastered the intricacies of his mobile phone. Tom Hollander and Nigel Anthony share confidences in their own mathematically precise language. And Julian Sands suffers at the hands of Martin Jarvis' Pinteresque writer-tormentor.

This four-part series is Theatre in miniature. Short entertainments based on Frayn's recently acclaimed book, Matchbox Theatre. His brand new collection, now on the radio - the theatre of the listener's imagination. Set design, ice-cream sales, packet of nuts, where to sit - it's up to you. Just sit back and enjoy.

Episode 2 cast: Patricia Hodge, Joanna Lumley, Adam Godley, Mathew Wolf, Sophie Winkleman, Charles Edwards. Stephen Fry, Tom Hollander, Nigel Anthony, Julian Sands, Martin Jarvis.

Written by Michael Frayn

Producer: Rosalind Ayres

Director: Martin Jarvis

A Jarvis and Ayres production for BBC Radio 4.

0320151211

Michael Frayn: the most comic philosophical writer of our time. An all-star cast has great fun with his hilarious view of us all. People talking. To each other, to themselves. To no one. Trying to communicate. To explain.

In Episode 3, a controlling theatre director (Alex Jennings) thinks he can direct anything. Lloyd Owen and Rosalind Ayres talk to each other on their mobiles, yards apart. Patricia Hodge and Roger Allam can't agree on how to deal with household repairs. And Matthew Wolf decides to take a short break from this very programme. Ian Ogilvy, Julia McKenzie, Julian Sands and Sophie Winkleman attend an unusual Memorial, and Janie Dee and Richard Sisson enjoy a musical invitation list. Martin Jarvis lectures on being 'quite clear'.

So no worries about queuing up to get a drink in the interval or finding the loo. We're on the radio - the theatre of the listener's imagination. Sit back and enjoy.

Episode 3 cast: Alex Jennings, Patricia Hodge, Roger Allam, Rosalind Ayres, Mathew Wolf, Ian Ogilvy, Julia McKenzie, Sophie Winkleman, Julian Sands, Janie Dee, Richard Sisson, Martin Jarvis

Written by Michael Frayn

Producer: Rosalind Ayres

Director: Martin Jarvis

A Jarvis and Ayres production for BBC Radio 4.

0420151218

Michael Frayn: the most comic philosophical writer of our time. An all-star cast has great fun with his hilarious view of us all. And the ways we attempt to communicate. And explain.

In this final part, we start by taking listeners direct from the Matchbox studio to a report from outside the National Theatre, where some long speeches are going on inside. Our reporter (Martin Jarvis) tells anchor Rosalind Ayres that it seems to be all about Hamlet. A couple (Lisa Dillon and Lloyd Owen), who have just been on a street demo, can't quite cast off their hectoring demeanour when ordering tea and buns. And Tom Hollander at a dinner party embarrasses a fellow guest with some surprisingly anti-social behaviour. A husband (Adam Godley) may have a communication problem. In a bravura solo performance, Julia McKenzie attempts (on the phone) to communicate with the 'sofa disposal' department, but are they actually listening? And language becomes a problem for Ian Ogilvy as a hospital visitor - but who is really speaking gibberish?

Episode 4 cast: Rosalind Ayres, Lisa Dillon, Adam Godley, Tom Hollander, Julia McKenzie, Lloyd Owen and Ian Ogilvy, Martin Jarvis, Nigel Anthony and Matthew Wolf.

Written by Michael Frayn

Producer: Rosalind Ayres

Director: Martin Jarvis

A Jarvis and Ayres production for BBC Radio 4.