Prog icon Jakko Jakszyk has created a musical radio play based on the real-life moment when poet TS Eliot met movie star Groucho Marx.
The pair spent a short time together in June 1964 after having been pen-pals for three years. Their letters inspired Jakszyk’s work, A Day At The Wasteland, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on June 14, starring the musician as Eliot and comedian Lenny Henry as Marx.
Their dinner date was not a success when it finally took place five decades ago. The BBC say: “When Groucho quoted lines from Eliot’s The Wasteland back to him, he was uninterested; and Groucho in turn was unable to recall the scene from Duck Soup that Eliot particularly loved. They parted, disappointed and a little dejected. Yet, nine months later, on learning of the poet’s death, Marx wrote: ‘he was a nice man – the best epitaph any man can have.’
“Jakko Jakszyk has woven a delicate vocal and instrumental score around the letters, while he an Lenny together speculate about the nature of the men’s seemlingly unlikely passion for the other’s work.”
A Day At The Wasteland, part of Radio 3’s Between The Ears series, is Jakszyk’s third commission from the station. He previously wrote The Road To Ballina, based on his own life and some of his family, then an experimental composition entitled The Church Of Lanza. Both were nominated for Sony Radio Awards.