London SE1 community website

Ditch at The Old Vic Tunnels

Leigh Hatts

Beth Steel's Ditch, premiered last month at the HighTide Festival in Suffolk, has transferred to The Old Vic Tunnels.

First you have to find the location. The performance was delayed due to a party having failed to locate the last narrow door on the right at the end of Station Approach Road at the side of Waterloo Station.

The venue is important for, although Beth Steel did not write her first play for Waterloo, HighTide always seeks a space that serves the text most powerfully.

The play is set in the future when Britain has been very badly hit by rising sea levels and the dwindling population is living under martial law. The story keeps a focus on a small military outpost reduced to four volunteer soldiers and two civilian women.

It is very well cast with Matti Houghton giving a strong performance as the most junior member Megan who carries out menial tasks.

Dearbhla Molloy is Mrs Peel who runs the fascist domestic regime with total control of grim menus.

The 'security' tasked with keeping ordinary people out of rural beauty spots are played by Danny Webb, who has several National Theatre credits, Paul Rattray, Sam Hazeldine and Gethin Anthony.

The simle peat stage allows for the marooned group to be seen briefly beginning to enjoy engaging with nature in order to eat.

The occasional noise of trains rumbling in and out of platform one overhead mixes well with the disturbing sounds of possible gunfire and approaching aircraft in the uncertain times.

The performance is just under two hours but you should wear something warm even in hot weather. Early arrivals can look at the installations in the other tunnels.

The Old Vic acquired a lease for the subterranean tunnels last February with the intention of creating an innovative performance space beneath Waterloo Station.

The SE1 website is supported by people like you
Related forum discussions
We are part of
Independent Community News Network
Email newsletter

For the latest local news and events direct to your inbox every Monday, you need our weekly email newsletter SE1 Direct.

7,000+ locals read it every week. Can you afford to miss out?

Read the latest issue before signing up

News archive from February 1999 to January 2001
Got a story for us?
Contact us with your tip-offs and story ideas.