On the radio: Gudrun’s Saga

Kate Phillips as Gudrun
Kate Phillips as Gudrun

The whispering voice of the land. Men being manly (or menly). Women struggling to make a stand in a patriarchal world. Swords. Religion. Long, unwieldy names and ages measured in summers. Welcome to the world of the Icelandic saga. In particular a retelling by Lucy Catherine of one of the most popular (by surviving manuscripts) which puts its heroine, Gudrun, front and centre in a strongly feminist take.

Gudrun was voiced by Kate Phillips. Often she had to shout her defiance of the men around her, sometimes she had to take stock of the blows fate landed upon her. Such is the saga life. The other female voice, that of Freija, the Norse god who breathes life and death in this remote part of the world, came from Samantha Dakin. All softness and enigma. The two made an excellent contrast.  The other sounds, aside from the wind and occasionally stormy seas, were men at various stages of declamation: the brothers who seek Gudrun’s heart, her father who wishes to control her, her husband who isn’t going to last that long.

Sometimes these fifteen minute drama slots can be a bit slight but even in a stripped-down plot this was a very engaging week – well worth catching in omnibus form on the iPlayer.

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