Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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All That Fall and other radio plays

Manuscripts | Publications | Productions | Reviews

 

On 4 July 1956, Beckett wrote to Nancy Cunard that BBC television had expressed interest in a mime [Act Without Words] and a radio play. Confessing that he had never thought about the radio play technique before, Beckett nevertheless “got a nice gruesome idea full of cartwheels and dragging feet and puffing and panting” which became his first radio play, All That Fall. It was broadcast in the BBC Third Programme on 13 January 1957, produced by Donald McWhinnie. The cast included two of Beckett’s favorite actors—Patrick Magee as Mr. Clocum and Jack MacGowran as Tommy.

The plot revolves around Mrs. Rooney’s journey to the rail station to meet her blind husband as he returns from his office and what transpires on their return journey home. Two events serve as touchstones: the childhood death of the Rooneys’ own daughter and the death of a young girl and fellow passenger of Mr. Rooney’s who either threw herself from the train or was thrown from the train, delaying its arrival.