Winter Hill – Bolton Octagon

Winter Hill is a new play written by Timberlake Wertenbaker and produced by the Octagon’s own creative team, who are firmly maintaining their excellent reputation for producing high quality, original works which are well worth a trip.

The team have just announced their 50th Anniversary season – made in Bolton for the people of Bolton (we’ll tell you more about this in the upcoming weeks) but it couldn’t be more fitting that the upcoming season is announced alongside a new production, inspired by and set in the local area.

Winter Hill as a location is the highest point in the West Pennines – a raised plateau of moorland with a commanding presence across the whole north west, particuarly over Bolton. It’s steeped in history and has inspired many songs and works of art.

It’s a special place to those that know it. So much so that writer Timberlake Wertenbaker, from London (who grew up in Northern Spain) found inspiration to write her latest play to hit the stage.

So special is this place that the idea of a capitalist shrine of a hotel at the top of the hill is too much for Dolly (played by Denise Black) and she takes matters into her own hands, setting about the task of turning her reading group into an activist group.

The plot is as bizarre as it sounds. A group of ladies that more closely resemble a knitting club, become radicalised, to the point that they’re about to commit an act of terrorism.

It makes for a fascinating play, bursting with socialist and feminist themes but more interesting still, demonstrated how a group of very normal people can become radicalised so easily.

Elizabeth Newman brings this show to life in another stunning piece of direction. A cast of 7 women, 5 of whom are much older is unusual and fitting for this production. The depth of the production means that not only is it enjoyable to watch as a show, but you can find layer after layer of poignancy and meaning. It’s a piece of art that makes a statement.

Light hearted moments are sprinkled throughout, not least from the character of Felicity (Janet Henfrey) who provides some extremely comical moments.

This is a very good production of an excellent new play. It plays until Saturday 3rd June. To book tickets visit

About Author /

Rob Stanway is the Founder of At The Theatre. He has reviewed the UK's best touring theatre (and much of the west end) for this website since 2005.

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