In Victorian England a Puritan sergeant and his three men (who are all deserters and tired of fighting) return from a bloody colonial war, to their colliery hometown.
They have with them their rifles, a Gatling gun and the corpse of ‘Billie’, one of their own killed in the fighting. As they arrive In the town, a strike at the colliery is on the point of erupting into violence.
The Sergeant promises the Mayor his men will bring the situation under control and remove the trouble makers. A barmaid further adds to the confusion and things do not go as planned.
- The play, directed by Lindsay Anderson, originally opened at the Royal Court in 1959.
- Performed in memory of its playwright John Arden, who died in March 2012.
- Although the play is now widely regarded as a modern classic, it was initially badly received among critics and audiences, playing to quarter-full houses. In response, The Royal Court published a leaflet, challenging audiences to answer the question ‘What Kind of Theatre Do You Want?’ and included a passionate advocacy of the play.
Ian Burfield, Ben Dilloway, Nicholas Gleaves, Tony Haygarth, Philip Jackson, Sarah Lancashire, Robert Lonsdale, James Mcardle, Ian Mercer, Clive Merrison, Kate O’Flynn, Stephen Rashbrook, John Savident, Tony Turner, and Mark Weinman
Jerwood Theatre, Downstairs at the Royal Court
Rehearsed reading, held Sunday, 25 November 2012 at 5pm