Musical Director: Max Mackintosh
Director: Rachel Boulton
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
Inspired by true events, The Good Earth tells the story of a Welsh community fighting against the council to save their homes and village. Devised by Fragments, this may be a new play in development but it already delivers a strong, polished script that is pacey, gripping and moving.
This heartfelt performance of the play combines elements of physical theatre and folk song to imagine the village and surrounding area along with the inhabitants that populate it, all within a blank canvas of a set that is entirely comprised of a few tables and chairs, and complimented by a simply stunning lighting design. The commitment of the cast and their complete belief in the surroundings that they are creating transports the audience through street, mountain and river, council offices to the comfort of home.
The dialogue on a couple of occasions alludes to the piece being set in the 1980s yet this is not obviously indicated in the costuming – a shame since the rest of the design is so clever and well thought out but this something that could easily be rectified and would add a further dimension to the piece.
The cast of five, comprised of Hanna Brunt, Max Mackintosh, Anna-Marie Paraskeva, Emma Vickery and Sarah Winn, are a true ensemble and have a wonderful chemistry together, enabling them to draw the audience into their world. Although the comedy caricature element of each of their characters is a little overdone, they all bring a depth of emotion and poignancy to their rôles that creates an empathy from the audience. They are also multi-talented, delivering hugely physical performances that are incredibly slick and singing a cappella folk songs beautifully.
The Good Earth may not be quite perfect yet but has the promise to be a truly great piece of theatre.