In 1830, the conditions of poverty were severe in rural Dorset. Wages were at their lowest and villagers were struggling in the fields, trying to cope with the newly installed threshing machines. A group of Travelling Players arrived at Kingston Lacy house, bringing rumours that the infamous ‘Captain Swing’ had been seen in the locality, sparking off rioting and burning.
Meanwhile, at Kingston Hall, owner William John Bankes prepares to go off traveling abroad, in search of more exotic treasures to bring home for the Hall.
The play is a fictionalized account of the confrontations which took place between the gentry and the land workers, and particularly what happened late one summer evening in 1830 when Lady Despencer crossed the ‘ha ha’ to a world she had only seen in idealized paintings of rural life.
About the production
Linda Colley (The Observer, July 1990) said, ‘History is story-telling, an imaginative reconstruction of individual experiences and perceptions, so imaginative in fact that it blurs with and becomes indistinguishable from fiction.’
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