Nottingham Playhouse. Wonderland. Full casting news and Beth Steel writer video.

Dig deep into this piece of Nottinghamshire history


Lighting the way through the darkness, the 2018 season opener is Wonderland, Adam Penford’s first play as the new Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse. Set at Welbeck Colliery in 1983, this gripping play is packed with dark humour and high tension. With an evocative set designed to illuminate life at the coalface and capture turbulent times, now’s the time to book your tickets and dig deep into a piece of Nottingham history.

Writer Beth Steel was inspired to write Wonderland based on her father’s experiences as a miner. Watch them in conversation below.

In a recent blog post Nottingham Playhouse artistic director said “The audition process for Wonderland has been particularly complex because it’s an ensemble piece. We’re trying to assemble a group of miners of various ages, physicalities and personalities. Most of the actors had two, perhaps three recalls, as we narrowed down what we were looking for and the pieces of the jigsaw began to slot into place.

In Wonderland, you see the miners’ strikes through the eyes of two sixteen year olds, Jimmy and Malcolm. We meet them on their first day at the pit and follow them as they learn about life underground. In the final round of auditions for these two roles we did a chemistry test, which is quite common in film casting but rare in theatre, and involves pairing up the actors and auditioning them in the room together. It’s an incredibly useful way of seeing how the two performers compliment and contrast with each other.”


Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company confirms full cast of Adam Penford’s first show as Artistic Director, Wonderland – including local actors Chris Ashby who previously played the lead in the National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and was cast through the Playhouse open auditions, and Joshua Glenister who was a member of Nottingham Playhouse Youth Theatre.

Set in 1983 Nottinghamshire, Wonderland sees two 16-year-olds, Malcolm (played by Chris Ashby) and Jimmy (played by Joshua Glenister) wait nervously at the pithead. Guided by veteran miner Colonel (played by Deka Walmsley), they descend into the brotherhood, banter, searing heat and liquid blue light of Welbeck Colliery.

Meanwhile in London, an American CEO Ian MacGregor (played by Robin Bowerman) is brought in to reform King Coal. Pits close and a strike is called.

Taking the stage in this all-male cast as The Times reporter David Hart will be Jamie Beamish, while Nicholas Khan – well-known to the Playhouse for his role in The Kite Runner – will play pit manager Tisley and transport secretary Nicholas Ridley. Holding roles as pitmen in the story will be Tony Bell as Bobbo, and Jack Quarton as Fanny.

TV stars Harry Hepple and Matthew Cottle have been previously confirmed to play pitman Spud and real-life politician Peter Walker in the Nottingham-based show.

Wonderland is a regional premiere directed by Nottingham-born Adam Penford and is written by the daughter of Nottingham miner, Beth Steel.

Adam said: “I’m really excited to be announcing the full cast of my first production as Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse and thrilled that the cast includes so many local actors, including those we met during our open auditions for local talent in October. Nurturing home grown talent is really important to the Playhouse.

Wonderland is really fitting for my return to the city. It’s set in Nottingham and by a local playwright, Beth Steel, whose dad worked at Welbeck Colliery. The play was really well received when it was first produced in London and I’m delighted to be bringing it home for its regional premiere.

Wonderland is really special. It’s incredibly funny and moving, with great characters, and looks at the strike in a fresh way. The set design is hugely ambitious and there are movement sequences and live music; it’s going to be a visual treat!”

Wonderland runs from Friday 9 February 2018 through to Saturday 24 February 2018.

Tickets are priced £37.50 – £8.50

For more information visit

Full cast biographies:

Chris Ashby – Unearthed (Folio Theatre); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (National Theatre); Tom’s Midnight Garden (Birmingham Stage Company

Joshua Glenister – The Living Room Trilogy Workshop (Arts Theatre); A Single Act (Liverpool Playhouse); All Shook Up (Unity Theatre)

Deka Walmsley – Cockpit (Royal Lyceum Theatre); Fatherland (Frantic Assembly/Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester); Billy Elliot (West End)

Robin Bowerman – Noises Off; The Ashes; Of Mice and Men; Vertigo; Amy’s View (Nottingham Playhouse); Shiv (Leicester Curve); Inside Out of Mind (Meeting Ground Theatre Company)

Jamie Beamish – TV: Derry Girls (Channel 4); Will (TNT); London Irish (Company Pictures/Channel 4); The Borgias (Showtime); Judge John Deed (BBC)Sacrifice at Easter; The Last Beauty Spot; The Tempest (Corcadorca); The Beaux Stratagem; England People Very Nice; A Slight Ache (National Theatre); Othello; The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe); The Merchant of Venice (Almeida Theatre)

Nicholas Khan – Our Town (Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester); A Tale of Two Cities (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); The Kite Runner (West End/UK tour/Nottingham Playhouse); Love N Stuff (Theatre Royal Stratford East)

Tony Bell – Karagula (Soho Theatre); The Damned United; Don Quixote (West Yorkshire Playhouse); Shakespeare in Love (Noël Coward Theatre/Sonia Friedman Productions)

Jack Quarton – Great Expectations; Alice in Wonderland (Derby Theatre); Aladdin (Key Theatre, Peterborough); Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Pants on Fire Theatre Company)

Matthew Cottle – TV: The Windsors (Channel 4); Murder on the Blackpool Express (Tiger Apect); Citizen Khan; Doctors; Pramface; Holby City; Sex, The City and Me; EastEnders; Down to Earth; Get Well Soon; Casualty (BBC).

Theatre: How the Other Half Lives (Theatre Royal, Haymarket/Duke of York’s/Tour); Communicating Doors (Menier Chocolate Factory); Our Country’s Good; A Small Family Business; The Habit of Art (National Theatre).

Harry Hepple TV: Boy Meets Girl; Holby City; Hustle; Doctors; Inspector George Gently (BBC), Misfits (E4).

Theatre: Into the Woods (Menier Chocolate Factory); The Saints (Nuffield Southampton Theatres); A Taste of Honey; Burnt by the Sun (National Theatre)


Nottingham Playhouse

Friday 9 February 2018 – Saturday 24 February 2018

Matinee Thursday 15 February at 1.30pm and Saturday 24 February at 2.30pm

Evenings: 7.30pm

Pre-show Talk Monday 12 February 6.15-7pm

A History of Nottinghamshire’s Mines with guest speaker Bob Bradley, a retired mining surveyor from Nottinghamshire who now runs Bilsthorpe Heritage Museum.

Box Office Information:

Nottingham Playhouse

Box office 0115 941 9419


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.