Wonderland: The Pride Of A Miner
Deafening explosions, and powerful silences abound in Nottingham-based writer Beth Steel’s Wonderland. With a father who worked at the colliery where the play is set, the aggressive piece truthfully recounts the impact of the 1984 miners strike on Nottinghamshire’s pit communities.
Artfully put together by young local art director Adam Penford at the Nottingham Playhouse, the story and the poignant portrayal of camaraderie and the craft of mining, capably handled by an all-male cast, has rightfully managed to create a buzz among theatre-lovers.
The play begins with the first day of apprentices Jimmy and Malcolm as Deka Walmsley’s no-nonsense character Colonel- the lead miner- introduces them to rules and the pride of working underground.
There are many personalities that make an appearance in the 125-minute-long performance. From miners such as extravagant ladies’ man Spud to union man Bobbo to the calculative industry men above ground sharp American Ian MacGregor (Robin Bowerman) and pompous journalist David Hart (Jamie Beamish), to a fast-moving storyline; there’s much to get to grips with. And if you aren’t familiar with the world of theatre- with booming dialogues, choreographed movements, and flitting bright lights- it may take you a while to sink your teeth into the story.
But once you settle in, the moving honesty of the play roots you in your place. The emotional delivery of well-written dialogue, the impeccably sustained local dialect, and the sprinkling of coarse humour and banter of Wonderland is enough for you to be bitten by the theatre bug.
As the cast come out for the curtain call, I look down from where I’m sitting to see the entire crowd stood in unison, giving them a round of well-deserved applause.
The lives, times and tribulations of miners deserves to be revered and remembered, and the appreciation for Wonderland speaks volumes of that respect