Review: Dangerous Visions: Death Duty

Death DutyBy Michael Butt

Radio 4, June 20

When your own child’s life is at stake, is it right to abandon your principles?

The final original play in the Dangerous Visions series (an adaptation of a further J.G. Ballard is coming next week) is a neatly self-contained tale which includes some well-created misdirection, as we discover the cause of a rift between father and son.

The cause of the misery that’s affecting the world isn’t directly given, but we’re in a city where water is severely rationed, and the government is hanging on by its fingertips. Someone has had the bright idea of sacrificing young men to encourage the water to flow – but so far, it’s not really working. And when the man in charge of implementing the policy and dealing with the grieving relatives of those who “win” the lottery starts to lose his faith, tragedy can’t be far away.

Interestingly, most of the stories in this season have had an element of optimism within them, so a dour downbeat tale is needed as contrast. Butt examines the necessities of a pragmatic approach and how great policies affect people individually, while presenting a very personal story of misunderstandings and conflict between father and son.

Verdict: A well-constructed tale. 8/10

Paul Simpson

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