I've always admired and enjoyed Don Haworth's plays. Now once, I happened to be in China, and was looking for the BBC's World Service. I wanted the news, and I heard a new play of Don Haworth's being trailed, called 'A View from the Mountain'.
It was especially commissioned by World Service for its huge shortwave audience, and it starred that well-known husband and wife team Judy Dench and Michael Williams. I thought I'd give it a whirl for a few minutes, but from the instant the play began, I was riveted to my set by a flawless production and wonderfully atmospheric music.
DH: At the point of embarking on 'A View from the Mountain' I felt it was going to run very much longer, and i did my best to compress it into an hour, which I think had an immense benefit to the play. I've often noticed when things are cut, although there are some steps of the logic missing, it's a great deal sharper, and this happened at the writing stage.
I wrote it too short ..... which was a marvellous thing, because we'd commissioned music from Max Early, and he had space, because the play slightly under-ran, to express himself well, and I think the music carried the thing along ... so that we had these cryptic scenes and then this lovely music which gives people time to reflect on the philosophical ideas.......
In fact we haven't mentioned them, but music and sound effects are absolutely essential to the radio writer....
DH: They are indeed. We've always got to bear in mind the simple practical difficulty that if the background levels are too loud, or there's too much of them, then heard at a great distance on an indifferent receiver, which is fairly frequent in radio drama, we're going to lose the words.
Therefore what we want to do with music and with effects, is something very positive.
There are things we can do with effects instead of words.
Preferably we don't want the whole lot going; we don't want effects merely for realism.
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