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If there is another series like Place Prints, I’ve never watched, heard or read it. Every Place Print not only tells a different story, it tells its story in a different way. The imagination David Rudkin has put into these stories has been eye-opening and I’m sure that when we’re allowed to go out again, I’ll be looking at places in new ways – and of course I’d love to visit some of the places described in this series.
To the Waters and the Wild tells the story of a hidden lake in Northern Ireland. This was a place David Rudkin first discovered a number of years ago. He was so inspired by it, he wrote a story about it. Later, when he came to write this series, he returned to the lake that had once inspired him.
This Place Print follows a similar pattern. A boy is staying with his grandparents and is exploring the surrounding area. He discovered the lake and is transfixed by the beauty and the secrecy of it. He develops a very intense relationship with it and, many years later, he returns.
But this isn’t the whole story. The lake has a voice. It speaks to the boy, putting ideas into his head. He obeys these commands. But is the voice of the lake real, or a product of his imagination? And if the lake is real, what does it want?
David Rudkin has written this in a very interesting way. The lake speaks in the first person and is powerfully-voiced by Frances Tomelty. The boy’s story, told by Stephen Rea, is in the third person. It works very well and there is still a strong feeling that we are getting inside the boy’s head, but it leaves open another possibility: that the lake is the true narrator and although she sees the boy, she is only imagining the thoughts in his head and the reasons for what he does. The third person section could be a story she tells herself about the boy.
Or perhaps not. There are so many possibilities here.
Jack McNamara directs this piece as he’s done all the others and he puts so much atmosphere into the piece. He has two very good actors with great voices and the ability to bring the text to life, but there’s also the background noises, the sound design by Adam McCready. Sometimes the background noise is there; sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s the happy sound of birdsong, the creepy sound of the night world, or something more menacing too. I suspect, sometimes, I didn’t even consciously notice the background noise, but it was there when it needed to be and it was contributing to my feelings in the scene. I think I might even have noticed it more when it wasn’t there; the sudden, disquieting switch into silence. Or not quite silence, but just the voice and nothing else.
This is another very atmospheric, disturbing and very thought-provoking piece.