In 1991, before an election they did not expect to win, the Conservative government made a fateful decision to privatise the railways. Now, twelve years later, as a result of that privatisation, the taxpayer subsidises rail more lavishly than ever before. In The Permanent Way, David Hare, working with actors from the Out of Joint Company, tells the intricate, madcap story of a dream gone sour, by gathering together the first-hand accounts of those most intimately involved – from every level of the system. Funny, tragic and compelling, the play offers an extraordinary parable of British mismanagement that raises questions about the recent history of the country.
Out of Joint's production of The Permanent Way premiered at the Theatre Royal, York on 13 November 2003 and toured before opening at the National Theatre, London, in January 2004.