Saturday, July 3, 2010

BBC Radio Play on Venerable John Henry Newman

BBC Radio 4 will present an Afternoon Play titled Gerontius at 14:15 (2:15 p.m.) Thursday, July 8.

Derek Jacobi stars as Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th Century Catholic priest who will be beatified when the Pope visits the UK later this year. Newman shared a house with Father Ambrose St. John and, upon his death, insisted that he be buried in the same grave as his longtime friend. Stephen Wyatt’s play examines their relationship, and draws upon the themes in Newman’s poem The Dream of Gerontius which went on to inspire Elgar’s oratorio of the same name.

It does not appear that the Afternoon Play is included among Radio 4's podcasts. London's 2:15 p.m. is 8:15 a.m. Central Time, so I suppose I could try to listen on the internet on the BBC's iPlayer. I presume the radio play will hint that Newman was a homosexual and try to make him as unattractive as possible, but I could be wrong!
Update (7/11/2010): I did listen to the play on a link that will expire soon. It was not very sympathetic to Venerable John Henry Newman or to the whole notion of sainthood. The author depicted Newman in the afterlife seeing his grave dug up and hearing Elgar's Gerontius music. With a demon and his guardian angel on either side, Newman protested at the disturbance of his grave and his beatification. The playlet ended with Newman proclaiming that he loved Ambrose St. John. If this was one's first impression of Venerable Newman, it was pretty bad.

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