Land Of Our Fathers

Presented by A Theatre 503, Tara Finney Productions & Wales Millennium Centre
Written by Chris Urch
Directed by Paul Robinson
Liverpool Playhouse Studio
1st March - 5th 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This play about a true life event, in which six miners from South Wales were trapped down a coal mine, occurred in 1979, the year Margaret Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister, and who later helped to destroy the mining industry.

The men were stranded there for nearly two weeks and were on the verge of starving to death.

That situation brought home the point that we all take things for granted. For instance, we go to a shop to buy food to consume at home, we eat three meals a day, etc. A Blue Riband and a Rich Tea biscuit, which is all they had left to eat, took on far more significance to the miners than we would normally afford those mundane items.

The small Playhouse Studio proved an ideal venue to stage this production, given the claustrophobic atmosphere of being enveloped by darkness.

I found parts of the first act difficult to comprehend. Given the utter despair and trauma they would have experienced in that predicament, some of the characters were sometimes in joyful mood, with one of them leafing through a copy of Playboy!

But the second act proved much more convincing and stark. Their starvation level had reached such a point that the five remaining miners, with the eldest having died five days ago, held a vote to decide whether or not to eat parts of his body as a means to stay alive.

The level of acting by all the six man crew was exemplary. One particular scene was highly memorable. Chopper (Cornelius Booth), the deputy or boss of the men, sat in a very pensive mood following a clash with a fellow miner. No words were uttered by him for about ten minutes but you could not divert your eyes from him.

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