Writer: Abi Zakarian
Directors: Emily Carewe and Jessica Rose McVay
The latest addition to Written on the Waves, 45North’s impressive anthology of radio plays, feels a little different as the story unfolds via a website as well as through audio files. Set during the first lockdown, Found tells the story of a woman grieving the death of her mother. Abi Zakarian’s play is delicate, moving and, finally, joyful.
Ziazan marks lockdown with a diary, though she struggles to find anything to say; that is, until, her mother dies. Now, the silences and the gaps between entries make sense. Being alone in her flat, and not being able to see her friends complicates her grieving. A zoom call with her besties only seems to make things worse and she tells them she’d rather not talk about it. As an aside in her diary, she says ‘I wasn’t ready to share her yet’. For now Ziazan needs to keep her mother close; she’s not ready to let go right now.
As the days pass, the diary meanders. The mourning process isn’t a smooth one, and for Ziazan some days are better than others. Her darkest days are only revealed when she meets a stranger at low tide on the shore of Thames as it winds through Deptford. This moment, where they share their pain, is as heart-wrenching as it is unexpected.
Incidents and memories are described and recollected seemingly at random. She finds a book about a woman who disguised herself as man back in the 18th Century floating in the river. She recalls a childhood trip with her mother to see the remains of a Roman palace in Sussex. The news shows videos of two dolphins swimming in the Thames, while even more improbable, Ziazan comes face to face with a unicorn in an urban park.
Each entry is accompanied by a photo or two that give the story a sense of location, helped, too, by Anna Short’s discreet sound design and Katie Gabriel Allen’s charming illustrations. Jessie Bedrossian plays Ziazan and her voice carries emotion perfectly, and it’s a nice touch that her words are written on the website and reading them while Bedrossian speaks, sometimes brittle with sorrow, makes for a more intimate experience. Also adding texture are Josh Finnan as the man on the beach and Ché Francis as Stevie, the tough talking unicorn.
Running at about 45 minutes this could be listened to in one sitting but there is a point where a recipe comes up for a nutmeg cake. Looking in the kitchen cupboards on a rainy afternoon you may find you have all the ingredients you need and press pause on the show while you mix flour, sugar and butter together adding spice and nuts before placing the cake in the oven. And as it bakes, turn back to Found, and continue to follow Ziazan’s story as all the strands join in the most satisfying and harmonious ways. A triumph. And the cake too ( our effort pictured)!