21 March 2019, The Tablet

Eaux de vie


Our Liam of Lourdes
BBC Radio 4

At first glance the oppositions on display in Alex Oates’ afternoon play (22 March) might seem a little too clear-cut for comfort. Its central character – neatly voiced by Joseph Ayre – is a sceptical, non-believing gay social worker booked to accompany his client, Noah, on a package tour to Lourdes. There is clearly something amiss in his private life as Noah (an excellent performance from Ross K. Foad), though fixated on Hollywood movies and a master of the incautious remark (“I don’t like that woman,” he complains of the flight attendant. “She’s right next to you,” Liam warns), soon spots Liam’s latent unhappiness. He also notices that “you’re still wearing that ring”.

Lourdes, naturally, is not quite what this devout disciple of Richard Dawkins anticipated. One surprise is the amount of alcohol available (“Are you kidding? We’re Catholics,” Fr Toby explains, before heading off to perform a karaoke version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” to rapt applause from parishioners).

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