Friday, April 17, 2020

‘Wonderland’ by Beth Steel

17 April 2020

I’m really enjoying the free Hampstead Theatre At Home plays being streamed on demand each week by The Guardian – a really interesting selection of (mostly new) plays. Last week’s offering was ‘Wonderland’ by Beth Steel, directed by Edward Hall (originally performed and live-streamed in 2014) which tells the story of the 1984 miners’ strike. Ashley Martin-Davis's incredible design reshapes the theatre auditorium to create overhead gantries and a descending pit cage with the audience on all four sides: it’s a stunning set. The play shows the events of the strike through the eyes of a group of miners in a Nottinghamshire colliery, while also addressing the political context through scenes in Whitehall featuring the National Coal Board Chair Ian Macgregor, Energy Secretary Peter Walker and the flamboyant journalist David Hart who was deployed by the Government to subvert the miners’ unity. Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill don’t appear as characters in the play but are ever-present in the story. Beth Steel has constructed a Shakespearean drama: the Battle of Orgreave scene felt remarkably like something from ‘Henry V’. It’s a tragic tale but a gripping and moving production, excellently acted by a large (all male) cast. This week’s free Hampstead Theatre play is ‘Drawing The Line’ – Howard Brenton’s epic take on the partition of India – which is available until Sunday 19 April at:

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