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Review: Land of Our Fathers at Newcastle Live Theatre

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A Gripping Tale

Land of Our Fathers
Newcastle Live Theatre
Until Saturday 30th January 2016

Presented by Theatre503, Tara Finney Productions and Wales Millennium Centre
Written by Chris Urch
Directed by Paul Robinson

Land Of Our Fathers is a tale of close communities and mining. It explores the bonds that can form between men that not only work closely together but their safety depends upon it. It combines a powerful story with dark humour. In short it could be written about the North East.

Photo: Polly Thomas
Except the story is based in the South Wales coalfield. An area full of song and tradition. Where generations of families have worked the coal face in order to keep the countries industry operating.

On the 3rd May 1979, as the country decides who will govern us, 6 miners find themselves trapped after an accident.  Old Bomber finds it hard to smile at the young lad, Mostyn, who is on his first shift. John Cording sets the tone for the pay as the injured Bomber. He does not approve of the young lad, played by Joshua Price, who seems to have a strong interest in musicals.

Photo: Polly Thomas
Hovis is a Polish Miner and war hero who has a sense of humour. He is loyal to the deputy, Chopper, who has to make sense of the situation and lead the group out of the mess. Robert Jezek and Cornelius Booth are both fabulous in these roles and come across with the necessary strength of character.

Photo: Polly Thomas
Also trapped are brothers Curly and Chewy. Tomos Eames plays an exceptional older brother, Curly, who looks out for Chewy. Chewy is turn has ideas about moving to London with his girlfriend and to go to Art College. Taylor Jay-Davies is able to convincingly ensure that Chewy comes across as a strong creative brother.

The play represents the debut for writer Chris Urch. Along with director Paul Robinson, Chris has created an emotive rollercoaster in which the pace never drops. This is no Disney tale and strong language is used throughout as the men sort out their rations and the work detail as they try to dig themselves out of the mess. Clearly there is some friction between some of them and they arrived at work that day with the emotional baggage from their lives above ground. Such details are revealed in a natural way as the play progresses.

Photo: Polly Thomas
As the time in which they are trapped continues, the unpleasant realities of life trapped underground may be harrowing for the audience. The play illustrates the genuine danger that the miners face on a regular basis. It is a stark contrast to live in, say, a call centre.

The musical moments and the humour show that the human condition doesn’t trivialise the situation but tries to make life bearable.

The strong ensemble ensures that the audience are willing each and every one of them succeeds in getting out.  The world may be changing politically above but essential needs of life in the pit become increasingly more important.      

Land Of The Fathers is a gripping tale. The audience finds itself relating to each character and feeling their joy and their pain. The end result is a tight, entertaining and stunning debut from writer Chris Urch.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

For more information on Land of Our Fathers which is at Live Theatre between Wednesday 27 and Saturday 30 January 2016 and to buy tickets costing between £22 to £12, over 60s concessions from £22 to £16 and other concessions £15 to £10 call Live Theatre’s box office on (0191) 232 1232 or see

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