First broadcast BBC Radio, 1988 and 1989 respectively. Published by Oleander Press (1990). The author writes: these four plays were written under the impact of discovering Jorge Luis Borges’ stories and thanks to them a glimpse of how an affinity for pastiche, for the exotic, for obscure imaginary corners of history and geography, could be dramatized. Five hours long, The Sea Voyage took 14 years to complete, outdoing Dylan Thomas’ previous record time between commission and delivery. It took ten days in the Maida Vale studio to record, with a huge cast. Before we went into the studio the top executives in charge of BBC drama had asked me to ‘cut out all the poetry.’ I refrained, and they refrained from intervening – or were never aware that I had failed to do their bidding. Or perhaps they were. Despite its reviews, the work was ignored when it came to the year’s awards, and was never re-broadcast.
Reviews for From the Lion Rock:
The London Times: “The brilliant, complex imagery of Carey Harrison’s dramatic ‘poems’ is heard at its characteristic best in From the Lion Rock.”.
The Listener: “A demanding, elliptical drama, beautifully written, and convincingly recreating an exotic world – the world of Kubla Khan and the old books of travels and oriental romances.”
Reviews for The Sea Voyage:
The London Times: “The Sea Voyage is a triumph. Gorgeous prose and exotic images that make you think of a mediaeval tapestry… it is a minor miracle, the way Harrison has stitched together the goonish and the gorgeous.”
The Observer: “Radio at its most glorious, full of sensual exotica, striking and surreal vignettes, wit and a cast of thousands.”
The Financial Times: “One of the most exciting bits of writing I have heard for a good time. Not only is it a thrilling tale, but it is drama most expertly and searchingly tailored for radio.”
The Independent: “Dazzling drama… very un-English.”
The Listener: “Carey Harrison’s The Sea Voyage must rank as one of the most sumptuous and altogether extraordinary drama productions of recent years, a veritable feast for the ears. Harrison has spun intricate webs of fantasy, erudition, and comedy. We have journeyed deep into some very strange territory, where the magical and the mystical rub shoulders with the sordid and the crude, purple passages of lyrical description give way to scenes of earthy farce, and an utterly alien world, rich in exotic detail, is forever opening around us. The third and last part left me firmly convinced that I had heard something very special… the sheer richness of texture and content remained, the piling on of detail, the virtuoso blending of words and sounds. It was mesmerizing, vivid and alive in every part.”