Ewan MacColl (born James Miller) ran, with Joan Littlewood, an experimental theatre company called Theatre of Action, which later became known as Theatre Workshop. He worked with Littlewood for 20 years, for much of which time they were married, advancing the theory of drama through a revolutionary technique. They used speech, mime, dances and song and devoted most of their time to playing in industrial centres to theatrically uneducated audiences.
McColl's play Uranium 235 was described on a handout as 'a vivid portrayal of the history of atomic research and the problems raised by the atom bomb'. The Glasgow Herald wrote that most writers would have got caught up in tales of dictators and secret agents, but McColl 'tells the story of mankind through the past 2,500 years, his struggle against stupidity and ignorance, his misuse of science ... and his undying spirit'. He even made quantum theory accessible, by portraying scientists Niels Bohr and Max Planck as a pair of knockabout comics.
Uranium 235 played throughout Britain and in 1952 Michael Redgrave brought this production to London's Embassy Theatre and then the West End.