No Batteries Required


No chickens were harmed in the making of this production.
No chickens were harmed in the making of this production.

It used to make sense to describe voice plays – plays using voices and not actions – as radio plays. But like my Lifeboat Party radio show ( oh, do you? Brilliant! Would you like a drink?) a lot of radio isn’t on the er, radio, these days. If you see what I mean.

I can’t call this a radio play, sensibly. Which leaves me uncertain what to call it. A play for voices sounds really pretentious, as if I had a pipe to go with my roll-neck sweater. And a beige one at that. Obviously that would be the pretentious version of me; mine’s black. Well, ok, two of them are black and one’s a very dark blue, the difference being mine are practical and cool, like me.

Anyway, the play what I wrote. It’s mostly based on fact. Battery cages for laying hens are now illegal in the UK. You can still stick 25,000 chickens in a barn, cut a hole in the door so they could get out if they could get to the door and weren’t already traumatised and call them free-range or barn but that’s not the point of the story. If there is any point to this comedy it’s simply this plain moral: if you say ‘I could write a play..’ on your third drink then you may well have to.

So I did. The voices were recorded just before Christmas in a session that was going brilliantly until I got a phone call that made me feel sick. New significant other (and it turned out, rather temporary sig. oth. Very significant. Very definitely other, now) demanding to know why all my stuff was all over her kitchen and what was I going to do about it. In a line that screams out to be used in one of my poems (Discuss. Starting with whether they are or not) she delivered the killer blow:

‘I’m so annoyed that I’m not going to say what I want you to do about it. I’m so annoyed that I can’t actually speak about it. So I’m going to end this phone call now.”

I thought I was good at passive aggression.

Actually, that really does deserve its own poem, doesn’t it? But first, enjoy No Batteries Required. It’s just over the half hour.

You can listen to No Batteries Required by doing that thing dolphins do, just here:

No Batteries Required – a play for voices.



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