David Hare’s, The Permanent Way, which first had an award-winning run in York and then at the National Theatre in 2003 roars to life in a provocative new site-specific staging.

“Why aren’t people angry? They were robbed. What belonged to them was taken from them by a bunch of bankers and incompetent politicians. What was theirs was given away. What was foredoomed to fail failed. And they weren’t angry.”

Revelatory, witty, and moving, The Permanent Way is an astonishing interrogation of the chaos arising from the botched privatisation of Britain’s railways. Told through the first-hand accounts of those involved at every level, from passengers to Civil Service mandarins, this extraordinary verbatim piece asks challenging questions of responsibility and governmental mismanagement. Have we learned anything from recent history?

“As a major new government report into the current state of the nation’s railways is being prepared to be released in the autumn, and with the Rail Review chair Keith Williams comments that the UK railway needs “revolution, not evolution” we feel this play is more timely than ever, commented director Alexander Lass. 

David Hare said, “I had hoped my 2003 play would become outdated. But the latest Independent review in 2019 proves the truth of what the play argued over 15 years ago: that the state of the railways is a whacking great distressing metaphor for just how badly the British were governed, and how even more hopelessly badly they’re governed today.”

The Permanent Way is on at The Vaults, Launcelot Street, London SE1 7AD from Friday 13 September – Sunday 17 November. Times: Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm. Matinees 2.30pm Saturday and Sunday. Admission: £20 – £40