Review: Dust, The Stand, Newcastle

DUST ... examines the legacy of the miners' strike.
DUST ... examines the legacy of the miners' strike.

SET on the morning of Margaret Thatcher’s death, Dust opens in Arthur Scargill’s modern-day London flat.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this is a play about Scargill’s personal battle with Thatcher and his reaction to her demise – but it is much more than that.

For me it was more about the legacy of the 1984/85 miners’ strike and the effect of the eventual coalmine closures.

The play opens with a rousing Scargill speech, in which he quotes his predecessor AJ Cook – leader of the miners’ union during the 1926 strike.

In many ways Cook is more of a significant character than Scargill, putting the play in its historical setting and providing the background to the politics.

Scargill is confronted by Lawrence Davis – an ex-miner and former union rep – who is writing his own book about the fall-out of the strikes.

Played by Stewart Howson, it is a mesmerising performance.

Watching Dust on the day the House of Lords gave the Government’s NHS reform bill the go-ahead really brought home its relevance.