Michael Symmons Roberts's play is inspired by Humphrey Spender's photographs of Bolton in the 1930s. Following a funeral procession through cobbled backstreets, the play dips into pockets of life on its way. Poetry, dialogue, monologue and song combine to provide an insight into the spirit of a 1930s industrial town and its people.
From The Radio Times
Worktown brings to life the photographs of Fleet Street regular Humphrey Spender. Spender was a member of the Mass Observation organisation, a left-wing group that sought to document the lives of ordinary Britons, and in 1937 he took to the streets. The resulting images were a frank yet lyrical evocation of working-class life re-created here by poet and novelist Michael Symmons Roberts. Taking a funeral procession as his starting point, we're guided into homes, pubs and even an abattoir, where pockets of everyday drama unfold. A boy experiences his first cockfight, a van overturns and a wronged father seeks revenge. There's humour, pathos and, through it all, a photographer clicks away. Humphrey Spender's photographs will be displayed on the Radio 4 website, alongside contemporary images of Bolton by Jonty Wilde.