Penford reveals cast for Wonderland in Nottingham

Steve Orme

The full cast has been announced for Beth Steele’s Wonderland, Adam Penford’s first production as artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse.

Two Nottinghamshire actors have been cast: Chris Ashby, who played Christopher in the National Theatre touring production of Simon Stephens’s adaptation of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in 2015, and Joshua Glenister, who was a member of Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre.

Set in Nottinghamshire in 1983, Wonderland involves two 16-year-olds, Malcolm (Ashby) and Jimmy (Glenister), waiting nervously at the pithead. Guided by veteran miner Colonel (Deka Walmsley), they descend into the brotherhood, banter, searing heat and liquid blue light of Welbeck Colliery. Meanwhile in London, American Ian MacGregor (Robin Bowerman) is brought in to reform King Coal. Pits close and a strike is called.

As previously announced, Harry Hepple will play Spud, a charismatic pitman at the colliery, and Matthew Cottle will play real-life politician Peter Walker.

The all-male cast also features Jamie Beamish as The Times reporter David Hart. Nicholas Khan, who was in the original Nottingham Playhouse production of Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, will play pit manager Tilsley and Transport Secretary Nicholas Ridley. Tony Bell plays Bobbo and Jack Quarton is Fanny.

Penford said, “I’m really excited to be announcing the full cast of my first production as artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse and thrilled that the cast includes so many local actors, including those we met during our open auditions in October. Nurturing home-grown talent is really important to the Playhouse.

Wonderland is really fitting for my return to the city. It’s set in Nottingham and is by a local playwright, Beth Steel whose dad worked at Welbeck colliery. The play was really well received when it was first produced in London and I’m delighted to be bringing it home for its regional première.”

Wonderland runs from Friday 9 February until Saturday 24 February.