Found 111, London – until 19 March 2016
This gripping and moving play by Chris Urch is filled with anger, secrets and how to cope in a life or death situation.
Stepping into the unique venue of Found111, the audience is automatically transferred into the gloomy depths of a Welsh mine, the place where secrets and confrontations are made during the production. The play opens with a mine collapse, trapping six miners and forcing them to confront the problems in their lives in the most horrific of circumstances.
Although the story takes a while to develop and there is more shouting than understanding which can diminish the power of the stories that are being revealed, it is nonetheless a moving and gripping production directed by Paul Robinson.
Each of the characters have been well developed and despite their tough exteriors, there is a sense of vulnerability that can be found in each of them. Leading the way is Cornelius Booth as Chopper, whose determination to hold it together for the sake of the others before descending into madness (as a particularly vivid dream reveals) is heartbreaking to watch.
Meanwhile, John Cording as Bomber – a character whose stubbornness and pride affects the direction his life takes in the course of the production, shows the unwillingness men have about showing weakness. There are equally strong performances from the rest of the cast that really draw the audience in to what is happening.
Ultimately it is a tale of survival and the different methods that we use as individuals to cope in life and death situations and how in fact that it can bring us closer together.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom – there are plenty of moments that make the audience smile – such as when Mostyn (Joshua Price) encourages them all to sing ‘My Favourite Things’ which they begin reluctantly but ultimately it raises the spirits and breaks through the tension. It is moments such as this that keeps the play nicely balanced between tragedy and hope.
It feels as though it drags in places – with several long pauses that feel just slightly too long before losing their effectiveness, but of course in the pitch black of the mine the characters of course lose all sense of time and so therefore the audience does as well.
Overall, it is a strong piece of drama that makes you laugh and cry in equal measures. It may be blunt in places that can be disturbing, but the characters and the situation they are in ensures that it still has plenty of heart in it.
Land of our Fathers is on at Found 111 until the 19th March.