Ditch – HighTide Festival, The Cut Halesworth

Post apocalyptic drama has been a staple for many writers over the years but Beth Steel’s stunning debut play Ditch can claim space among the best of them.

Some never explained catastrophe (global warming?) has befallen civilisation with most of the country left under water. The Government has collapsed and a group of surviors have taken to a remote outpost to protect their land. The conveniences of modern life have run out and they must resort to their own ingenuity to survive.

It’s a basic premise, what happens when the organised state collapses and civilisation breaks down, but one that Steel explores in vivid detail. Here is a world full of humour but also full of fear, populated by a group of characters that know little about each other but who are forced to rely on each other to survive.

Her writing sees these characters develop into totally believable characters on an unstoppable journey towards a gripping climax.

Director Richard Twyman elicits perfect performances from his cast; Gethin Anthony, Sam Hazeldine, Matti Houghton, Dearbhla Molloy, Paul Rattray and Danny Webb. The atmosphere of the piece is aided in no small way by exquisite and atmospheric set and lighting design by takis and Matt Prentice.

This may be a debut play but it is an assured piece of writing, many others have covered similar topics but few match the powerful punch that Ditch delivers.

Premiering at the HighTide festival, the show has already secured a London transfer to the Old Vic Tunnels later in May and looks destined for further plaudits. Catch it at any cost. HighTide once again proves to be a leading light in producing thrilling new writing.

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