Rebecca Frayn: 'One silver lining in the pandemic is that we can rebuild green'

The Misbehaviour screenwriter on Jane Goodall, the TV adaptation of Normal People and why fungi is the key to our very evolution

We’re in lockdown with my 20-year-old daughter and one of our 27-year-old twin sons. On good days, life in lockdown is idyllic. All of the sunshine and blossom makes it feel as if the planet is celebrating us humans retreating behind closed doors. On bad days, it can feel as if we’re slipping down some dystopian plughole. So I’m careful what I watch. There’s only so much angst I can take if I want to sleep at night.

I’ve been happily immersed in Normal People. It’s an elegiac reverie on first love, and I greatly prefer the BBC’s adaptation to the book. It brings to life a complex romantic dynamic that somehow eluded me on the page. I also highly recommend Unorthodox and its remarkable companion documentary, One of Us, both on Netflix. Each offers a remarkable window on the Satmar Hasidic community of Jews living in Brooklyn. I was both touched by the poignancy of Holocaust trauma that lead the sect to its extremism and horrified at the decimating psychological effects on anyone who attempts to leave the group.

Watch the trailer for One of Us on YouTube

My eco-activist son has been screening an array of hope-filled environmental documentaries that remind us that one silver lining in this global pandemic is the possibility of rebuilding green. We were all inspired by Jane Goodall: The Hope on National Geographic, which is a fascinating documentary. I had no idea how far this remarkable woman’s environmental work has extended beyond her famous studies of chimpanzees. We loved Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective, which is free on Vimeo and aims to empower people by showing them how to be better custodians of the Earth.

I also loved Fantastic Fungi, which is a visual and mind-boggling documentary about how mushrooms have been key to our very evolution. I was also very inspired by Tomorrow, a documentary by two brilliant French film-makers, Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion. It offers such a wonderfully positive, intelligent, hopeful and solution-based approach to living. It will lift your sprits as an ideology of an achievable utopian world. It’s the perfect antidote to lockdown nihilism.

• Misbehaviour is available to download now.


As told to Rich Pelley

The GuardianTramp

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