Part of the 2017 Dangerous Visions season, Josie Long and Liam Williams have written Perimeter, a tale of a future city divided by a vast electric fence into the haves and have-nots. Josie and Liam star in their story (as brother and sister Josie and Liam), two have-nots scraping an existence together on the wrong side of the fence.
The story moves our heroes to the other side of the fence, giving the listener the opportunity to learn just how polarised the two halves of society are as they are first overawed by the everyday luxury of Marie-Anne-Anne-Marie (Haywood) and her daughter Collette (Rabheru), then get seduced by the hedonistic lifestyle. The story is a classic one of the effect of the outsiders on those they meet, and the journey each character takes when confronted by those who grew up in very different worlds. It’s a pleasing listen, and the comedy is gentle on the ear.
Where this story is strongest is in the sheer ordinariness of the haves, Marie-Anne-Anne-Marie and Collette. It would be easy to brand them as oppressive, exploitative and embodying the worst of capitalism as they live on the backs of the oppressed. Instead we get to know them as people, no more or less evil than those born on the wrong side of the fence.
Of course Perimeter is a story about change, and its resolution is eminently satisfying. Josie and Liam are comedians who show a talent for writing in this story, and the city is populated with a well-realised set of characters, too many to mention in this review. Ashna Rabheru is chilling as fourteen year-old wealthy yet still teenage Collette, and the most pleasing character of all. Josie and Liam take the most air-time (this is their story after all, both as writers and characters), yet they are astute enough to let elements of the story arc pivot on others.
Perimeter paints an amusing, yet chilling, vision of a future society and James Robinson’s direction keeps the dry humour in balance as the story reaches its conclusion. We hope to hear more from Josie and Liam.
The BBC first broadcast Perimeter on the 30th of June 2017; full details are available on their website for this, and the rest of the Dangerous Visions season.
PERIMETER / AUTHOR: JOSIE LONG, LIAM WILLIAMS / PUBLISHER: BBC RADIO 4 / STARRING: JOSIE LONG, LIAM WILLIAMS, PIPPA HAYWOOD, ASHNA RABHERU / TRANSMISSION DATE: 30TH JUNE 2017