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A play set in late-19th-century Cornwall based on a violent dispute between rival fishing towns over one fleet's breach of Sunday observance might sound as obsolete as the tin-mining industry. But though his imagination feeds primarily on local history and superstitions, Nick Darke, 50-year- old author of The Riot (right), casts his net wide, taking in the present, too. His last work at the National, Ting Tang Mine (1988), turned a conflict between two mining communities into a parable about the divisiveness of the Thatcher years. The fractiousness of The Riot parallels Cornwall's current economic hardship and uncertainties about the future. It stars Geoffrey Hutchings as the landowner caught in the crossfire between commerce and compassion.