Land of Our Fathers – Review

REVIEW by TIM WICKENDEN

On Friday 14 February I joined a lively and supportive audience at Theatr Gwaun, Fishguard, to watch Malone Hallett Productions present Chris Urch’s critically acclaimed, dark, brooding and sometimes humorous play, Land of our Fathers.

It is set over a period of 10 days in early May 1979 as six miners become trapped below ground. Cut off from the rest of the world and with only the food and water they took down with them, the group of six, many of whom have worked together for years, begin to see one another and themselves in a completely new light.

To begin with, they are filled with hope and determination, convinced of an early rescue, and the first half of the drama is full of dark humour as each miner’s character and individuality emerges. In the early days, we learn the lighter side of each character and some of the secrets and dreams they carry with them. For a while, they maintain discipline and humour, but a sudden and unexpected event at the end of the first act changes everything.

The second half of the play is much darker as the group realise that they may not be saved. The food has gone, and they have almost no water. Tensions rise, cracks and emotions appear until ultimately they find communion in facing what fate has in store for them.

This is a challenging play to produce and perform, and it shows the level of talent and commitment between the cast and director that they put together an accomplished, moving and entertaining interpretation of the work. It takes something special to hold an audience when the setting is so dark and claustrophobic.

There are few moments of lightness, either metaphorically or literally, to break the bleak position that the men find themselves in, but I found myself engaged with the characters and discovered something to like in all of them. Each had a powerful story that developed throughout the play, and all the actors carried their roles convincingly. It is enough to say that I believed in them as miners stuck in an impossibly dangerous situation.

The set was dark, broodingly lit and brought the audience into the underworld, the costumes looked 100% authentic, down to the miners’ lamps and orange boiler suits. The cast not only acted well but sang beautifully and I’d expect nothing less from such a talented group of Welshmen! Bravo!

Director – Rain Malone-Hallett

Bomber – Patrick Thomas

Mostyn – Jacob Hancock

Curly – Jimmy Banks

Hovis – Owen Lucas

Chewy – Tristan Thomas

Chopper – Colin Hancock

Tim Wickenden

Website for author Tim Wickenden: https://www.timwickenden.com/

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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