ED2011 Theatre Review: Cry of the Mountain (Whole Theatre)
The mountains of Appalachia are vanishing into rubble. Adelind Horan brilliantly takes the stories of twelve real people whose lives have in some way been affected by mountaintop removal mining, and turns it into a mesmerisingly emotional piece of theatre.
Slipping effortlessly from one character to the next, Horan unveils a story of exploitation and political frustration that is breathlessly moving in its intensity. Her portrayal of Ed Wiley, a former miner turned activist, brings tears to her own eyes as well as those of the audience and it is heartbreakingly beautiful to watch the power of his story take hold of her with such passion.
‘Cry of the Mountain’ is an unmissable piece of theatre.
Yesterday, we were delighted by a 4 star review from The Scotsman, the most reliable reveiw source, and the national paper of Scotland. The review is linked and pasted below. The print version listed Cry of the Mountain as a “Hot Show!”
As you will read, the show, Addie, Max, and even the cookies got a rave review.
A DEFIANTLY low-key affair, this one-woman, multi-character verbatim piece is a textbook example of both educating without preaching and of keeping an audience absolutely gripped with just one voice onstage.
The excellent Adelind Horan speaks the words of a procession of real people from the mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky, each of them on either side of the live debate about the mining practice of mountain-top removal.
The piece has been beautifully structured, offering a dozen vignettes taken from interviews with each of the people involved. These monologues convey the original conversations with apparently documentary precision, recreating stutters, hesitations and, at one bewildering point, a man’s panicked fear that a poisonous spider has crawled inside his shirt. Horan’s impersonations are unstinting, with forthright young women, beleagured middle-aged men and wise, sad old timers, all finding themselves perfectly inhabited.
These testimonies combine empathy with balance. Ed Wiley, an ex-miner and campaigner who remembers pumping waste into underground caverns, almost breaks down with guilt when recalling his granddaughter’s illness through water contamination. Matt Landon, a volunteer organiser with United Mountain Defense, remembers what he considers his politically motivated arrest for passing an unstaffed checkpoint on a public road. Yet coal industry administrator Don Gibson points out that coal provides the majority of America’s energy needs, and that he would rather see his son go into the industry than be sent to the Middle East to fight for oil.
It all adds up to an unfailingly human portrait of the situation, punctuated by moments of crystalline emotional resonance: actress Stephanie Pistello’s description of seeing a mountain top sheared off with dynamite to claw out the coal within; housewife and retired sociologist Lynda Ewan handing out home-baked cookies (they’re very tasty) and considering that mankind’s survival might be dependent on the grassroots tendency towards democracy being stronger than that towards fascism; elderly “keeper of the mountains” Larry Gibson declaring bravely that “they gon’ get you anyway if you don’t fight back”. Soundtracked by Max Wareham’s rich live banjo playing, this wonderful and often amusing show recasts the “gap-toothed and dehumanised” stereotype of the Appalachians as a vibrant community of historic conflict and change, and an important environmental battleground on America’s doorstep.
The experience of being an audience member can be kind of alienating, caught behind the fourth wall. But every once in awhile along comes a performance that can truly feel intimate, in which a person communicates their ideas to the audience with breathtaking efficacy…. (read more)