Iron - by Rona Munro 
19th, 20th, 21st January 2012

Click here for more pictures of this play

Cast        Production Team
Faye Jean Cooper   Director Iain Howland
Josie Birte Sponagel   Production Assistant Dan Cooper
Guard one Martin Howarth   Stage Manager Lyn Marsh
Guard two Siobhan Schofield   Assistant Stage Manager Jon Gilbert
      Properties Karen Rogers
      Continuity Babs Oakley
      Costume Christine Eckley
      Set Design & Construction Stephen Radley
      Sound Design Lisa Maule
      Sound/Lighting Operation Cathy Naylor
      Programme Design Howard Platt
      Production Photos Howard Platt

Click here for the NODA crit for this play


Iron is a gritty, serious and challenging drama for both performers and audience and LADS are to be commended for choosing it. 

Lopping Hall had been radically changed to accommodate a split level, stark, blue set that loomed over the audience. Set in a prison, it was brightly and uncompromisingly lit, allowing us to see every nuance of the performers features, with harsh, isolating pools of light used to concentrate the narrative. An ideal setting allowing the characters nowhere to hide in this psychological drama about the motives behind a murder.

ay (Jean Cooper), the inmate serving time for the murder of her husband and her now adult daughter Josie (Birte Sponagel), visiting her for the first time since the crime, dominate the evening, being onstage most of the time and their performances and the writing were absolutely compelling.

The characters did not give much away at first making the opening scenes intriguing and when it became clear there were deep questions that needed to be answered the audience were cleverly drawn in to a series of meetings in a closely monitored prison visiting hall.

Two guards were the catalysts to the story, giving credence to the prison setting and its order and providing insight into the complex character of Fay. Guard 2 (Siobhan Schofield) provided a contrasting side plot, appearing to have a questionable empathy with Fay. Her performance was utterly convincing, both sympathetic to and ultimately intolerant of Fay. Guard 1 (Martin Howarth) was not as strongly written as the three female characters, but still managed to make his presence felt as a simpler more sympathetic guard, until the surprisingly violent final scenes.

Ian Howland directed the actors skilfully, drawing out strong performances from his hard working cast, but above all giving the play a perfect pace that was vital for a tragedy with virtually no physical action.

The truth probably emerged, but in the process provoked questions into the nature of families, memories, estrangement and the understanding of the criminal mind.

Tom Johnson