Playing With Fire by David Edgar
National Theatre premiere for mighty new 'State of the Nation' play from our most prominent political playwright David Edgar's breakthrough play, Destiny (1976), looked at the rise of racism and the National Front - and wondered about the future shape of a multicultural society in Britain. Now, thirty years on, Edgar looks at the realities of our multiracial nation in a brilliantly layered new play. Playing with Fire is set in a fictional, but instantly recognisable northern town, Wyverdale, not a million miles away from Burnley or Oldham. The Labour-led Town Council is a shambles, presiding over schools with 'the lowest GCSE pass rates in the country', wards amongst the 'poorest ten per cent in the UK' and the 'worst council tax collection rate'. The Councillors are fundamentally out of touch with their citizens, who are mostly unemployed, badly housed - and non-white. With a cast of 42 and an epic sweep typical of Edgar at his best, Playing with Fire charts the arrival in the town of an ambitious civil servant, sent up from Whitehall to sort things out - and watches as she discovers the near-insoluble complexity of a local government riven by antagonisms and crippled by lack of cash. What emerges is a sobering and provocative portrait of the near-ungovernability of whole tracts of urban Britain today. Playing with Fire marks David Edgar's debut on one of the largest of the National Theatre's stages - the 1100-seat Olivier. Details have yet to be announced, but a major theatrical event is in the making.