Dust (3 stars)

This article is from 2011.


Mining a rich seam of anger among Thatcher and coal industry

It’s 2011 and (you might need party hats and a few crates of beer at the ready) Margaret Thatcher has died. Such is the lovely dream (er, I mean ‘fictional scenario’, of course) at the heart of Ade Morris’s Dust, a play set largely in Arthur Scargill’s flat in London’s Barbican. The politics and history of the British coal mining industry (including the suggested parallels between Scargill and AJ Cook, the miners’ leader during the General Strike of 1926) are intercut with a heart-rending story of a Doncaster family torn apart by the dangers of mining and the harsh realities of the current recession.

The play is the brainchild of producer Ralph Bernard CBE, chairman of Classic FM and, on paper, a fully paid-up member of the British Establishment. Yet this is very much a working-class drama. Although passionately performed by a strong cast, the piece’s combination of political speculation (militant miners in league with the Provisional IRA, anyone?), polemic and sentiment is an uneasy one. However, its rueful political bitterness explains its appeal in these days of Tory-driven austerity and disenchanted riot.

New Town Theatre, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 3.30pm, £11–£13 (£9–£11).


  • 3 stars

The morning of Margaret Thatcher's death. In his Barbican flat Arthur Scargill and his publisher have a visitor from their past- an ageing militant miner with his own take on Scargill's controversial legacy and a dark forty year family secret. In a Britain partly shaped by their actions these fierce old fighters slug it…

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