PREVIEW: Without Malice or Ill Will - powerful miners' strike impact play at National Coal Mining Museum

A powerful one man play about the impact of the 1984/85 miners’ strike can be seen at Yorkshire’s National Coal Mining Museum for England.

Without Malice or Ill Will - a monologue written and performed by Ray Castleton - tells the story of miner turned copper Geoff Marsh and a decision that changed his career forever.

BUY TICKETS: The play takes place on Friday, June 7, at 7pm and then twice on Saturday, June 8, at 2pm and 7pm, with £10 tickets bookable now via the Museum website - BOOK HERE.

Ray's acting work includes many credits across theatre, TV, film and radio.Ray's acting work includes many credits across theatre, TV, film and radio.
Ray's acting work includes many credits across theatre, TV, film and radio. | Ray Castleton

It deals with divided loyalties between duty to his oath, from which the title of the play comes, his uniform and his friends, family and his old community.

The story, told trough the eyes of a retired police officer. tells of his early life in a mining community, his relationship with his father, his first job as an NCB apprentice and how his uncle persuaded him to give up mining and join the police force.

It then looks at his career during the year of the strike and the infamous battle of Orgreave.

The 50 minute play ends with him reflecting on how the strike impacted, and continues to impact, on him and his community even forty years later.

It contains strong language and descriptions of violence but is suitable for those aged 15-plus.

Ray, whose acting work includes many credits across theatre, TV, film and radio, won the Actor Award for Excellence for Without Malice or Ill Will at The Buxton Festival Fringe in 2019.

He has worked as a professional actor and playwright since 2011. Other writing credits include Chicken Soup (with Kieran Knowles), On Behalf of The People and The Striking Dilemmas Trilogy.

It is being performed as part of the museum’s free year-long exhibition, 84/85 – The Longest Year.

The Museum will also be screening two documentary films delving into the subject matter, with The Battle For Orgreave (Yvette Vanson, 1985) on June 23 and Still The Enemy Within (Owen Gower, 2014) on June 29. Both screenings are pre-bookable via the Museum website for £2 - BOOK HERE.

The Museum’s free exhibition, 84/85 – The Longest Year, runs until the anniversary of the end of the strike, Monday, March 3, 2025, with refreshed displays and a supporting events programme throughout the year.

The exhibition focusses on the experiences of miners and their families, giving a voice to three different points of view: striking miners, those that went back early and those that didn’t strike at all.

The Museum, the former Caphouse Colliery, is on New Road, Overton, the main road between Wakefield and Huddersfield.

National Coal Mining Museum’s attractions include underground tours, exhibitions, pony discovery centre, nature trail, adventure playground, café and more.

It is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm (winter hours until March 24) and 10am-5pm (summer hours from March27).

Entry to the the museum is free but, as an independent charity, donations are appreciated.