I was lucky enough to see the original Out of Joint production of The Permanent Way at the National Theatre in 2003. I remember being horrified by David Hare’s verbatim play about railway privatisation, based on first-hand accounts, including the people behind the body counts of the four major rail disasters between 1997 and 2002.
With Alexander Lass‘ excellent revival at The Vaults, evocatively staged beneath Waterloo Station, the rumble of the trains creating the soundscape, Hare’s play has not only lost none of its power – it’s also become evident to me that it’s not really about the railways at all… but something much bigger, more universal and, in 2019 Brexit, post-Grenfell Britain, more resonant than ever.
But I suspect David Hare knew this all along: did you know that Hare’s playtext has a subtitle? It’s “La Voie Anglaise”… “The English Way”.
After last night’s performance, I was joined by cast members Sakuntala Ramanee, Jacqui Dubois, Gabrielle Lloyd, Lucas Hare, Paul Dodds, Tej Obano and Jonathan Tafler, as well as assistant director Aran Cherkez, to discuss the production and related topics:
- Why revive this play in 2019? What does it say to us today?
- What advice did David Hare give the cast on a rehearsal visit?
- Does playing real ordinary people bring extra responsibility?
- How does this specific venue add to the drama?
- Why do Brits love complaining about trains?! (asked by an American!)
Watch and share the full Q&A video below.
Event photography by Peter Jones.