Wonderland takes us deep underground into the world of a coal mine where collapsing roofs and explosions are met with laughter. But when the politics of the day come crashing into the miner’s lives, the consequences are devastating, and a country is changed forever.
Wonderland received its world premiere at the Hampstead Theatre, London, 2014, in a production directed by Edward Hall. The play was broadcast live worldwide through the Guardian website, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Wonderland received its regional premiere in 2018 in a sold-out production by Adam Penford at the Nottingham Playhouse. That production was revived in 2019 at the Playhouse in a co-production with Northern Stage.
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"The verve and humanity of the piece are never in doubt ...Gripping ... a play and a production of rare power and theatrical flair" ★★★★
"Impressive...What is remarkable is not only Steel’s skill in resurrecting the divisions of the 1984 strike but also in showing the destruction of a proudly defiant community." ★★★★
"Beth Steel’s ambitious, sprawling, impassioned play transports its audience down into the half-light and infernal heat of a Nottinghamshire pit ... Scenes of miners labouring, bantering, showering off the dirt that streaks their bodies — or dangling in the lift in the dark during a power cut — collide with conversations in which they have no voice, yet which will alter their lives forever ... Wonderland is theatre of grit and guts." ★★★★
"Epic...Intensely personal ... cool-eyed" ★★★★
"This powerful play ... comes with the endorsement of David Hare. He is quoted in the publicity as saying that “Beth Steel, in a commanding Main Stage debut, illuminates corners of a story you think you know but don’t”. I would add that, in this piece...also honours Shelley’s principle that art should help us to “imagine that which we know”. ... Steel portrays this with gritty wit, strong sentiment (as opposed to sentimentality) and a poetic wonder at the vastness of geological time." ★★★★
"Steel weaves high-political moments between scenes of comradely Nottinghamshire mine work... The ruinous cost of the miners’ strike is laid bare" ★★★★