The Grapes of Wrath

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This article is from 2009.

The Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck's classic back on an Edinburgh stage

The relevance of John Steinbeck’s 1939 tale of the Joad family’s enforced odyssey across America in search of work and a place to settle following eviction from their farm is grimly evident in a world of foreclosures and chronic unemployment. Yet in director Jonathan Church’s new production of The Grapes of Wrath, the temptation to clumsily update the story or draw overwrought analogies to the present day has been resisted. Rightly so perhaps, for this is a story that has long been recognised as having a timeless, universal significance.

The cast, which includes TV favourites Christopher Timothy, Oliver Cotton and Sorcha Cusack, seems aware of the need to successfully marry the personal and historical aspects of the story. As Cusack, who plays Ma Joad in the production points out, ‘In writing about the way we exploit everything until it’s exhausted, Steinbeck was being extremely prophetic.’ And if Steinbeck saw fit to describe the banks of the Depression era as ‘monsters’, we can but wonder what he would have made of today’s financial behemoths. Damien O’Hare, who plays Tom Joad, and is also charged with driving the large truck which forms part of the lavish set, contrasts this historical aspect of ‘the immensity of what the Joads are experiencing’ with ‘the nuances of the family relationships’ that make this story so universal, or as O’Hare puts it, ‘mythological’.

Like the Joads, audiences can expect to be taken on an emotionally exhausting journey that ends, not in milk and honey in the promised land of California, but at least, perhaps, in a new understanding of small-scale, humanistic morality.

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 13–Sat 17 Oct

This article is from 2009.

The Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck's great American novel is brought to the stage by NST associate director Abbey Wright and features a community chorus with live music.

Royal and Derngate, Northampton

Tue 9 May

£10–£30 / 01604 624 811

Wed 10 May

£10–£30 / 01604 624 811

Thu 11 May

£10–£30 / 01604 624 811

…and 8 more dates until 20 May

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Wed 24 May

£13.50–£30 / 0113 213 7700

Thu 25 May

£13.50–£30 / 0113 213 7700

Fri 26 May

£13.50–£30 / 0113 213 7700

…and 11 more dates until 10 Jun

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