written by Patrick Hamilton
starring Alan Rickman, Adam Barron, and Andrew Branch
first broadcast by BBC Radio 4, 1983
Overall rating: 5 hands
Rickmaniac rating: 5 hands
Synopsis: Two Oxford students entertain some friends, after having committed a crime.
The Leopold-Loeb murder, and 1924 trial, shook the society of its time. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were sentenced to life imprisonment for the kidnap-slaying of a 12-yr. old boy. During the trialís sensationalistic coverage it was said that the accused considered themselves superior to "common" morality, and murdered solely for the experience. This is one of the famous trials of the 20th century, a century where we have unfortunately observed many such examples of manís lack of regard for human life.
The well-paced play develops magnificently as it engages our attention. In Rope, two Oxford students murder a fellow classmate. While not failing to bring up the philosophical, ethical, and humane issues, the play can also be listened to solely as a suspense-crime story. The cast vividly conveys the impact of the story solely through the power of their voices.
Mr. Rickmanís character, Rupert Cadell, shows up holding a drink on one hand and leaning on a walking cane with the other. His laconic, measured cadences reminded me of the type of character the late George Sanders used to play. However, there is more to this man: Rupert, you see, inside his cynical egocentric exterior, is a World War I veteran whose wounds have not dulled his sense of morality. Rupertís deep, expressive outrage at the crime springs from an inner maelstrom caused by the failure of philosophy, and by his own failure, to provide an ethic for the amoral criminals.
This is a very entertaining tape. Also, I found the issues raised by this play very relevant, and will suggest it to my book discussion group.