Will Wat, If Not, What Will? (1972)

Alie Street
26 May - 24 Jun 1972
Will Wat If Not What Will - Poster

The Half Moon Theatre’s first new play was a workshop play about Wat Tyler and the peasant uprising of 1381. It told the peasants’ side of the story – the side not normally told in history books. It found the peasants up against Edward III’s militarism, the increasing ambition of the rising merchant class, the Black Death and the notorious Statute of Labourers – the first legal restriction in England on the free bargaining power of labour. The uprising followed, from spontaneous and almost accidental beginnings, and a leadership gradually emerged, including Wat Tyler and the lay preacher John Ball.

Irving Wardle in The Times said: “As this is only the third production of the Half Moon Theatre it may be premature to start talking about house style. But if this rough and passionately intelligent production gives any index of future policy, then London has gained a new company worth treasuring”.

John Mortimer in the Observer called it: “One of the best things in my term as a critic”.

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