The Permanent Way

The Permanent Way

3.3 (3) · Site Specific/Immersive

David Hare’s award-winning play roars to life in a provocative new site-specific staging performed in The Vaults, London’s alternative subterranean venue beneath Waterloo Station.

Lyn Gardner avatar
12 September 2019  ·  Follow on Stagedoor
“Situated under Waterloo Station, the Vaults should prove a pertinent venue for this revival of David Hare’s 2004 documentary piece, a collage about how not to run the railways. Hare interviewed dozens of people, including civil servants, railway workers and executives—and those who survived or were bereaved by the four major UK rail crashes that took place over the seven years preceding the play. It adds up to a terrible indictment of a culture which puts profit before people—and where nothing ever changes, as each disaster is followed by an inquiry and a set of recommendations which are never acted upon.”


“What happened would simply not have happened under British Rail. It wouldn’t have happened. Not in the British Rail days.”

Revelatory, witty, and moving, The Permanent Way is an astonishing interrogation of the chaos arising from the botched privatisation of Britain’s railways. Told through the first-hand accounts of those involved at every level, from passengers to Civil Service mandarins, this extraordinary verbatim piece asks challenging questions of responsibility and governmental mismanagement. Have we learned anything from recent history?

This first London revival since the play's critically acclaimed run at the National Theatre is directed by Alexander Lass, whose recent credits include 46 Beacon (Trafalgar Studios) and No Man's Land (West End).

Critic reviews

Devastating resurrection of play tackling corporate greed

The Arts Desk

David Hare's play chronicles the appalling indifference of politicians and managers and gives those bereaved and injured a much needed authentic voice

Broadway World

David Hare’s searing play about the chaos and tragedy that followed rail privatisation rings as true today as ever

The Guardian

An engrossing play and an interesting study of how huge companies can prioritise profit at the expense of people


Sparsely staged site-responsive remount of David Hare’s compelling indictment of corporate mismanagement

The Stage

Righteous fury under the railway arch

Evening Standard

Alexander Lass's production skilfully whirls together a kaleidoscope of voices

The Arts Desk

Date & time

Show ended
Fri 13 Sep - Sun 17 Nov, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins


Leake St SE1 7NN London, UK · Get Directions
out of 5 stars
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