Often, when a new Artistic Director takes over a theatre they direct the opening play. But, perhaps wisely, Roxana Silbert has taken her time, programming shows by other directors, before she herself steps up to the plate. Her play of choice is Al Blyth’s thriller which looks at the shadowy world of GCHQ. When two young people with advanced tech skills are recruited by the intelligence services they become an essential part of UK national security. But what is the price we all pay for national security? And what impact does widespread surveillance have on people’s lives? When the pair see more than they are supposed to, loyalties are tested.
"Yes, we’re geeks, yes, we sit at computers all day, yes, we barely leave Cheltenham, but we are still, when it comes down to it, spies." Neil and Zef are two twenty-something computer whizzes with questionable dress sense and a highly developed interest in video games and Netflix. They’re also the UK’s ‘National Defence Information Security Team’ - recruited by GCHQ for their sky-high IQs and ability to work quickly and discreetly, no questions asked. With unfettered access to the world’s data and infinite powers of electronic intrusion, these unlikely agents are essential cogs in the national security machine. But when their window onto intelligence operations shows them more than they were meant to see, they begin to question their roles in a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not… Al Blyth’s explosive espionage thriller challenges the ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ mantra and explores how we can live honestly, love freely, and stay authentic when the advances in cutting-edge technology outpace the law. The Haystack is Blyth’s first full-length play and Roxana Silbert makes her directing debut as Hampstead Theatre’s Artistic Director.