James Fritz's play was so compelling that it took my breath away - review

Cause and consequence: Rachael Stirling starred in ‘Comment Is Free’
Cause and consequence: Rachael Stirling starred in ‘Comment Is Free’ Credit: Geoff Pugh

Did you hear Radio 4’s afternoon play on Monday? It was a repeat of Comment is Free by James Fritz, a young writer new to radio, winner last Sunday of both the Imison and Tinniswood awards, the first time this has happened. It is a brilliant piece. The Imison award judges declared it “fiercely current”, the Tinniswood judges found it “diamond sharp.” It took my breath away.

Here’s what happens. A columnist and political commentator, Alistair Cooper, is constantly in the news because of his inflammatory opinions. We are left to imagine these because, beyond his answerphone message, we never hear him or what he says. What we hear are people’s reactions to him, clusters of voices that punctuate...

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