Writing on Wigan Pier
David Pownall's play has strong resonance for today. In 1936, George Orwell embarked on a visit to Wigan, a typical coal-mining town in industrial Lancashire in order to write a book about the people, their experiences and their struggle to cope with the effects of the Depression.
Determined not to be dismissed as a dispassionate observer, he resolves to spend time living with and amongst the people. However, he brings with him his self-guilt, his obsession with the English class system, his fiercely-held preconceptions of the working-class and his remarkable cut-glass voice, of which he is all too painfully aware. The visit is both revealing and humorous.
He stays in an appalling doss-house above a tripe shop, tries to work down a pit, stays with a family, makes a pass at the wife, upsets the local Women's Institute and meets a priest escaping from fascism in Spain. Whilst most who meet him take him for who and what he is, for Orwell the experience develops into a journey of self-discovery.
Orwell .... Adrian Scarborough
Neil .... Karl Davies
Helen .... Helen Longworth
Grandad .... Bernard Cribbins
Mrs Brooker/Country Lady .... Thelma Barlow
Gollancz .... Keith Drinkel
Arnold .... Anthony Glennon
Meade/Ignatius .... Tom Bevan
Directed by Martin Jenkins
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.