Early in her career, the late Elizabeth Jolley wrote, among many other things, radio plays. Two Men Running, produced in 1982 by a cast of 8 actors in the ABC radio studios, is one of my favourites. Central to the overall feel is the sound track. Simultaneously mean and forgiving, relentless but soothing, it contains the perpetual noise of feet pounding along a gravelly surface.

Like much of Jolley’s work, Two Men Running is a dark tale told with cheeky confidence, as if nothing about any of it is dark at all. This dichotomy is in the musings of a Jungian-ly two-sided character, who is running around the exercise yard of a prison. The relaxed nature of the conversation between the two halves of the same man, dangles with a fine balance for the listener. Hats off to The Sunday Series producer Jane Pawley and the producer of Jolley’s particular recording, Jane Howard, for dovetailing the script with this almost urgent, sound effect.

Unfortunately, even though I’ve searched, I can’t find an audio file of the play (or anything about these producers) online – hence no link – but there is an equally magnificent experience to be had with the Penguin print version of nine of Jolley’s radio plays, called Off The Air.

Introduced and edited by Delys Bird, the conversations between the radio staff and Jolley – with real snippets from notes and letters – are extraordinary. Delys Bird has done a wonderful job of writing forwards to each of the nine plays, and, in so, produced one of my most precious possessions.

The play (any radio play of Jolley’s) is a treat. Listen out for it, and then go to a still quiet place to take it in. Savour it.


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