Review: Wasteland @ Northern Stage

Gary Clarke’s Wasteland was the sequel to Coal, it focused on two generations on how they coped in this era of radical upheaval. We see the miners at a loss as the result of the strike and follow the new rave generation dancing and taking pills in abandoned spaces. 

The piece was emotive, Clarke managed to emulate the story across in the performance.

Reminiscent of DV8  Physical Theatre, I was completely engaged with the opening scene where we see the last miner ( Alistair Goldsmith) wallowing around, drinking and in total disrepair. He is tripping over himself and falling over, the movement is laboured and tiresome. Completly ugly and beautiful to watch at the same time.

The story is slow in starting off as we eventually understand the collapse of the mining industry, reinforced with a Pit Men of four singing and brass band players- I felt that section ruined the moment. There were no need for that performance, the solo performance was clear enough to the audience.

Then we get to see the raving culture unfold.

We watch five ravers dancing, bouncing and jumping around the stage.  I appreciated the repetitive motifs and gestures that the dancers were making, really getting into character and becoming a raver. Though after a while the raving scenes did become monotonous and I became bored with watching those scenes.

Whilst we watch the rave, we see the last miner sitting in his living room, in a chair and watching the TV. Perhaps a reminder that whilst a new generation is rebelling, an old one is still sitting in the darkness worrying about the future. And a message that we should never forget about our past and what our families have done for us to get to where we are now.

I appreciated the accuracy to the story and timing of the piece, with the costumes and use of archive footage played on the screen behind the dancers. It all made the piece more realistic and hard-hitting.  

There is a touching scene towards the end of the dance where we see the last miner with his son who has had heart failure from the intake of drugs, just holding him. Knee deep in desperation, just hoping that his son will breathe again, picking the heavy weighted body up, struggling to hold him upright. It is hard to watch the poor Father trying to belive his son his still alive.

Wasteland is powerful, it shows how both of these generations may appear so distance but in actual fact are so close together and both of their communities are so tightly knit.


For more information click here 

Visit the Wasteland Website here 

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.