A real gem in the canon of British comic fiction. Evelyn's Waugh's fast paced roller-coaster, dramatised by Jeremy Front, is peopled by larger than life characters and a few grotesques. Paul Pennyfeather, a quiet, earnest, scholarly young student at Oxford knows nothing of 1920's high-life until one night he encounters The Bollinger Club ...
Produced by Marion Nancarrow and Directed by Tracey Neale
Set in the early jazz age, the tone of Decline and Fall is Wodehousian with added sex, drugs and alcohol. The central character is Paul Pennyfeather, played by Oxford graduate and young emerging comedian, Kieran Hodgson. Paul is an innocent but nevertheless the engine of the piece. The fuse is lit in Oxford after which the plot moves us quickly to London then out to a tenth rate school in rural Wales where we meet the Headmaster, Dr Fagan and two fellow teachers, Grimes and Prendergast played by comedy stars - Geoffrey Whitehead, John Sessions and James Fleet.
From here we are taken to a glass and steel fantasy of excessive modern architecture in the middle of the English countryside, the home of the beautiful Margot, stylishly played by Emilia Fox, designed by the eccentric Otto, a cameo played with relish by Tom Hollander in Episode Two. Paul's travels then take him to hot, sweaty Marseille and into trouble which results in him ending up in a British prison. Paul's adventures end in a rather Alice in Wonderland fashion when he is given a new identity and returns to Oxford, exactly where he started, but with the addition of a beard.
Decline and Fall is dramatised by Jeremy Front. Jeremy won the Best Dramatisation in the 2014 Drama Audio Awards for Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour. His wonderfully comic touch has been evident in his most recent work for Radio 4 - Charles Paris and Incredible Women.
|Paul Pennyfeather||Kieran Hodgson|
|Dr Fagan||Geoffrey Whitehead|
|Margot Beste-Chetwynde||Emilia Fox|
|Peter Beste-Chetwynde||Alex Lawther|
|Lady Circumference||Felicity Montagu|
|Mr Davies||Stephen Critchlow|
|Paul's Guardian||Stephen Critchlow|