Radio 4, June 18 and 19 (and 7 days after on iPlayer)
Smalltime crook Turner finds himself in the mysterious Zone – and learns he has abilities there which make him highly valuable…
According to the BBC’s commissioning editor, reading Trevor Preston’s unpublished novel, on which The Zone is based, was the catalyst for the creation of a second season of Dangerous Visions plays, and for that, if nothing else, we should be grateful for this piece, even if it’s by no means the strongest of the presentations within the collection.
It feels more like a dramatized reading of a novel than a drama in itself, and brought to mind James Mitchell’s final Callan book, Bonfire Night, in which lots of ideas were present, but never really felt as if they congealed into a coherent whole. The Zone starts with Turner’s arrival from what feels like our world (but which becomes referred to as ‘the City’) into this strange otherworld following a car accident, where he encounters all manner of odd people, including some who he believed to be dead. Trying to flee, he discovers that, unlike others, he can get out of the Zone, and from there his problems increase.
There are some great performances from Ben Crowe, Stephen Greif and Sinead Keenan in particular, but this does feel rather as if a quart of ideas has been poured into a pint-pot of time – perhaps it could have done with a bit more space for explanation?
Verdict: Some good ideas that never really come together. 6/10
The next Dangerous Vision is The Two Georges on June 20 at 2.15 pm