Written by Vivian C. Lermond
Directed & Edited by Martin Borley-Cox
With theatres and rehearsal spaces closed, a firm favourite (audio dramas) have benefitted from a revitalising breath thanks to their accessible nature. Returning with another such drama, award-winning White Cobra presents a family drama centred around the sympathetic experiences and tensions between two owners of a Vermont Bed & Breakfast. And when things seem at their tethers, a new guest brings a fresh wave of life into the pair as Violet comes to the small town to discover her roots.
Some audience’s may recognise more than a passing resemblance to the works of Amy Sherman-Palladino, which is nothing but a compliment to Vivian C. Lermond’s writing. Skirting the edges of melodramatic, A Summer of Spring is a judicious family drama, which thankfully staves off the threat of predictability, catching a few twists to even seasoned fans of these particular forms of storytelling.
In respects, Lermond’s production accentuates the necessary narrative elements to not only justify its move to audio but emboldens it. A Summer of Spring radiates a classic radio play, with performances tuned into accentuating emotions through speech and tone. And though the trio all bring their best, you’ll find Fraser Haines and Becki Cockcroft bring additional elements of pathos to their roles as Harlan Winslow and traveller Violet Hawkins.
Director Martin Borley-Cox knows where to level emotion, dialling the notch up a few in moments, only dipping into excessive on occasion. This leads, to the production only real detractions, and that’s its short length and pacing. Given its production during a global pandemic, with performers recording from home – it’s still an impressive feat. There’s potential aplenty for a lengthier production, either on stage or on an audio platform, which would tighten the minor scruples one could take with characterisation or quick escalations
Additional to their turn directing, Borley-Cox leads the production’s editing, principally auditory – the soft morphing of still images and text aids in satisfactory transitions and tone. Scored with just two tracks, though fitting, there are still several scene-setting audio effects evoking that old-fashioned radio drama feels. Visualising the characters becomes effortless with the clarity of motivation and action in speech mingling with the scene-setting sound effects.
These interactions and the authentic chemistry from the cast lifts A Summer of Spring to a steady height. Tying directly into the script, the gradual warming Cockcroft has with Haines and Mindy Robinson sets a natural flow for the show. Equally, the moments of turmoil shared between Robinson and Haines bring the additional ‘stakes’ the production requires.
Sometimes when we hit a wall, it’s a reminder to stop, breath and rest – and A Summer of Spring is the quintessential listening for those looking to tap into their emotions, and still enjoy themselves. Lermond’s script hits in places, but never hard enough to cause discomfort, rather, enough to perhaps open up those barriers we’ve been holding up.
A Summer of Spring is free to watch here