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The Haystack

The Haystack

By Al Blyth
Imprint: Nick Hern Books
Paperback : 9781848429086, 144 pages, January 2020


Neil and Zef are two twenty-something computer whizzes with questionable dress sense and a highly developed interest in video games and Netflix. They're also the UK's "National Defence Information Security Team"—recruited by GCHQ for their sky-high IQs and ability to work quickly and discreetly, no questions asked.

With unfettered access to the world's data and infinite powers of electronic intrusion, these unlikely agents are essential cogs in the national security machine. But when their window onto intelligence operations shows them more than they were meant to see, they begin to question their roles in a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not…

Al Blyth's play The Haystack is an explosive espionage thriller that challenges the idea that "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear," exploring how we can live freely when advances in technology outpace the law. It premiered at Hampstead Theatre, London, in 2020, in a production directed by Roxana Silbert.


"Grips like a vice... a whip-smart thriller."

- The Stage

"A cross between Kafka, Hitchcock and le Carré, the play is a heady brew... a rollercoaster ride."

- The Reviews Hub

"A dark, twisty love story with complex ethical and intellectual ramifications, fizzing with wit… a play that is genuinely for today."

- Telegraph

"An enjoyable internet thriller… the plot is gripping, the dialogue snappy… a sharp contemporary play about the way we live and what we value."

- Financial Times

"Searingly theatrical... John le Carré himself might admire the standout dialogue... This pacy, brainy surveillance thriller should be widely watched."

- Guardian