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Making sense of the past

Zosia Wand’s drama Bones is  an evocative portrayal of multi-generational memories

25 September, 2020 — By Lucy Popescu

There’s been a run of one-act radio plays set on beaches. The lap of waves, the whisper of a sea breeze and the cawing of seagulls certainly adds atmosphere to Zosia Wand’s evocative drama, directed by Nadia Molinari.

Bones takes place in real time on the sands of Morecambe Bay, renowned for the speed of its tides. It’s about identity, about roots, what unites a family and the multi-generational memories that are in our bones.

Marie (Daniela Denby-Ashe) and her teenage daughter Katherine (Miranda Dobson) are arguing on the beach. Katherine has a box of random items – Vapour Rub, gherkins, a scarf… We learn that her Polish grandmother, Babcia, has recently died and she wants to float a raft of her personal belongings as a tribute.

Despite being born in England to an English father and possessing a British passport, Katherine suffers disparaging comments at school about her Polish heritage. Her curiosity is piqued but her mother is reluctant to talk about the past and her arrival in the UK.

Katherine’s great grandfather had been a pilot with the RAF, but when he returned to Poland he ended up in a Soviet prison camp.

Babcia left her homeland in 1984, at a difficult time in Poland’s history, and long before the country opened up to the West. Marie joined her in England two years later, aged just 10.

Katherine is furious that her mother changed her first name. For Katherine, names are important: “You can’t break the thread.” She is trying to make sense of the past and not all the stories she’s heard about her family add up.

As she tells Marie: “Your story, it’s in my bones, here, we’re all connected, me, you, babcia, one story, memories are older than our bones, I feel it…”

Gradually Marie reveals the truth and the particular sacrifices her mother made for her family.
If you can ignore the bizarrely different accents of mother and daughter, and follow the slightly confusing family tree, Bones offers a pertinent look at heritage and identity, what shapes us and the need to belong.

Bones is broadcast on BBC Radio 4, on Monday September 28, at 2pm

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