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Mrs Updike

1 hour, 30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 10 February 2013

Eileen Atkins and Charles Edwards star in this new play by Margaret Heffernan about the tempestuous relationship between one of the most famous American writers of the twentieth century, John Updike, and his mother.
When John Updike's mother was asked whether she was proud of her son's acclaim, she replied, "I'd rather it had been me."
Updike said that one of his earliest memories was seeing his mother at her writing desk. He wrote many stories about his mother and mothers in general, almost all isolated by their intelligence and sensitivity, which their sons both love and fear. Replete with tension, they mirror the journey all children must make from love to separation to attempts at coexistence and back to love. But the stories are always about the son's journey, as though the mother has gone nowhere. But what of Mrs. Updike's journey?
This play brings Updike and his mother together as Updike struggles with another failed marriage.
He comes home to his mother, expecting support and sympathy, to discover for the first time that his mother is a person too, with hopes and fears and disappointments he had never seen. His mother challenges him: can he love anyone whom he does not see merely as an extension of himself?
And, if he can't, what kind of writer, what kind of man, does that make him?

Mrs Updike ... Eileen Atkins
John Updike ... Charles Edwards
Young John Updike ... Josef Lindsay
Wesley ... Stuart Milligan
Springer ... Garrick Hagon
Interviewer ... Joseph May
Lara ... Lorelei King

The writer, Margaret Heffernan has written three plays for radio, including a pair of plays about Enron.


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