Nottingham Playhouse goes down pit again with Wonderland

Published: 2 February 2019

One of the 2018 successes at Nottingham Playhouse, Beth Steel’s play about the miners’ strike of 1984, Wonderland, is to begin another run at the theatre.

The Playhouse’s artistic director Adam Penford, who again directs the production, said, “Wonderland was a huge hit in 2018 and received standing ovations at every performance. Our audience has been calling for its return since it closed and it’s clear they feel an ownership of Beth Steel’s beautiful play.

“It’s rare that theatre resonates so strongly with a community, producing tears and laughter in equal measure. I’m sure the production will capture the imagination of the audience again whether they’re returning or seeing the show for the first time.

“I’m also thrilled we’re taking it to Northern Stage, where the story will resonate just as deeply.”

The play starts with two 16-year-olds waiting nervously to go underground for the first time at Welbeck colliery. Meanwhile in London, an American CEO known as The Butcher is brought in to reform the industry. Pits close and a strike is called.

Three actors who were in the 2018 production return. Joshua Glenister again plays teenaged miner Jimmy. Robin Bowerman reprises his role as American coal boss Ian MacGregor and Jack Quarton returns to the part of miner Fanny.

John Booker plays another 16-year-old, Malcolm, while William Travis is veteran miner Colonel. Giles Taylor takes to the stage as David Hart, a reporter on The Times, and Geff Francis plays both pit manager Tilsley and Transport Secretary Nicholas Ridley.

Karl Haynes, who played Sergeant Williams in the Playhouse’s production of Mufaro Makubika’s Shebeen in 2018, is Bobbo in Wonderland. Nicholas Shaw plays pitman Spud and Paul Kemp takes the role of politician Peter Walker.

Wonderland runs at Nottingham Playhouse from Friday 8 February until Saturday 23 February. It transfers to Northern Stage from Wednesday 27 February until Saturday 9 March.

Steve Orme