Cottle and Hepple find Wonderland in Nottingham

Steve Orme

Matthew Cottle and Harry Hepple will feature in Wonderland, Adam Penford’s directing debut as the new artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse.

Cottle played Martin in the BBC TV series Game On and Prince Edward in Channel 4’s The Windsors. On stage he was William in Alan Ayckbourn’s How the Other Half Loves in 2016 at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket and played Reece in Ayckbourn’s Communicating Doors at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2015. In Wonderland, he will take the role of real-life politician Peter Walker.

Hepple will play Spud, a charismatic pitman at Welbeck Colliery. He is known for his performance as lead character Leo in BBC 2’s Boy Meets Girl. On stage he took the role of Geoffrey in Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey at the National Theatre in 2014.

Wonderland is written by Beth Steel, the daughter of a Nottingham miner. The play is set in Nottinghamshire in 1983. Two 16-year-olds wait nervously at the pithead. Guided by a veteran miner, they descend into the searing heat of Welbeck Colliery.

Meanwhile in London, an American known as The Butcher is brought in to reform the coal industry. Pits close and a strike is called. Cracks appear on all sides as the embattled miners are torn apart trying to protect their livelihoods and families.

Penford said, “Wonderland premièred in 2014 in London to great acclaim and it’s a real coup that its regional première will be at Nottingham Playhouse.

“Beth’s play is really special. It’s incredibly funny and moving, with great characters and it looks at the strike in a fresh way. The set design is hugely ambitious and there are movement sequences and live music; it’s going to be a visual treat!”

Wonderland runs from Friday 9 February until Saturday 24 February.