On the radio: North of Riga by Eoin McNamee

Men keep their strength in their hair, in a woman’s hair you will find her dreams.  Such was one of the recurring messages of this rather beautiful and engaging modern fairy tale from author Eoin McNamee.

Set in a harsh Irish port and focusing on a lone, and potentially lonely, girl Lorna and her friendships initially with two town drunks Mervyn and Sandra and then with potential Latvia witch (and definite hairdresser) Sarah, North of Riga was everything a good radio drama should be.  The story could not have worked in any other medium, the voice characterisation was spot on, and the creation of the bitter cold as winter rolled in was effective and shiver-generating.  I liked the repeated motifs of “Dear Lorna” and the listing of “one for …, two for …”

Special mention also to Amybeth McNulty who played the character of Lorna.  The thirteen year old girl whose mummy is ‘too busy’ to look after her and who must be different people to the enquiring social services, the bewildered adults and the tempting coiffeuse.

The resolution neatly brought together the fairy-tale elements and the apparently real and we were left with as satisfying a forty-five minute radio play as you are likely to hear.  Well worth checking out on the iPlayer where it’s drama of the week, or waiting for a Radio 4 Extra repeat.


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