Writer: Company (devised)
Director: Rachael Boulton
Musical Direction: Max MacKintosh
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
In 1966, a coal mine collapse killed several people in a small community in Wales. Twelve years later, fearing the same would happen in another town, the government sought to displace the people of Troedrhiwgwair before the same disasterbefellthem. Motherlode Theatre Company’s The Good Earth looks back on the small mining community that refused to give up their town, and their heritage, without a fight.
This cast is extraordinary. The ensemble work is stunning and the ownership of every moment of the script is absolutely gripping. We are introduced to the town and itsimpending exodus by Gwenllian Higginson as a young girl named Jackie, whose portrayal of a child is both accurate and charming. Rachael Boulton (director, Dina), Anni Dadydd (Gwen), Kate Elis (Trish), and Michael Humphreys (James), all breathe incredible passion and specificity into their roles. The relationships between motherand childrenare particularly vivid and heartbreaking. Under Boulton’s guidance, the small-town culture and the ire at displacement by a faceless entity is palpable.
Not to be ignored is the stunning Welsh music, provided by a cappella vocals, under Max MacKintosh’s musical direction. Though the dialogue of this piece is in English, all the songs are in Welsh, andembody the world, the people, and the history, all the deeper for it. Even if one doesn’t speak a word of Welsh, the songs transcend language and their haunting beauty resonates through each moment of the play.
This productionis simple and direct, joyous and heartbreaking. The delicate balance of tone and mood against the factual history of the evacuation of Troedrhiwgwair is rich and compelling.The Good Earth transports the audience to Wales and makes the experience of one small village resonate around the globe.
Runs until 3 September 2016