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Sinister tree 'Mandrake' radio 4 drama by Anita Sullivan
A stake through the heart that grew


When Irene's neighbour tries to cut down a boundary tree, she chases him with a scythe. She claims her husband is buried under it, but the tree is over a hundred years old. Social worker Ruth Wilcox intervenes. A story unfolds that changes her life.


'Mandrake' is an original Afternoon Drama for Radio 4. It was first broadcast in October 2008 starring Sarah Kestelman and Martina Laird. The violin part (the mandrake's voice) was created by Sarah Harrison of Mazaika.

Recorded on location in a creaking house and a smallholding with contributing chickens.


Produced by Karen Rose and directed by Anita Sullivan. Location recording and sound design by David Thomas. Yiddish translation by Stanley Lipman.


"Do you want to know how good Anita Sullivan's play Mandrake is? I'll tell you: my 13-year-old, who heard the first 25 minutes in the car on our way to the schoolbus stop, insisted I stopped it when she got out, so she could hear the last 20 minutes on the way home - a first for the generally radiophobic Grace. And she's right: this is a magical, mysterious, atmospheric and even genuinely frightening work. It's about a woman who professes to be 120-something and her fascinating life - with more than its fair share of murders, by her account. There is also a woman whose life she changes in a purgative but ultimately beneficial way, and a child keen to know who her father was. Sara Kestelman and Martina Laird star, while the violin playing that adds so much to the atmosphere is that of Sarah Harrison of the folk duo Mazaika." Chris Campling, The Times Online

" A delicious musing upon those fuzzy areas where rationalism can't quite supply all the answers" Camilla Redmond, The Guardian

Interested in location recording?

See my 'Recording on Location' blog

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