Preview: The Pitmen Painters, Edinburgh

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THE hazardous realities of life down the pit collide with the rarified sensibilities of the art world at the King’s Theatre, Leven Street, this week.

The Pitmen Painters, King’s Theatre, Leven Street

Following sell-out seasons at the National Theatre, on Broadway in New York, and in London’s West End, producer Bill Kenwright brings Lee Hall’s award-winning play The Pitmen Painters to the Capital.

The year is 1934, and a group of Ashington miners have hired Robert Lyon (Master of Painting at King’s College, London and later Principal at Edinburgh College of Art) to teach an art appreciation evening class.

Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen began to paint. Within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collections; but every day they worked, as before, down the mine.

Written by Hall, whose credits include Billy Elliot, The Pitmen Painters has played to huge critical acclaim since.

Hall stumbled across the story of the Ashington Group of painters in an article he read in a newspaper, he then researched the piece by reading William Feaver’s book about the group, on which the play is loosely based.

The piece examines the lives of a group of ordinary men who do extraordinary things and is a humorous, deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics.

The Pitmen Painters, King’s Theatre, Leven Street, tonight-Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 2.30pm), £14-£29.50, 0131-529 6000