Butcher Holler Here We Come!

ensemble theatre · a economy · Ages 13+ · United States of America

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June 29, 2019 certified reviewer

What I liked

The immersion feels so real and palpable, that it’s almost impossible to imagine these men as anything other than authentic southern coal miners trapped in a mine in 1973. It almost feels unfathomable that they are actually actors from New York. The immersion is just so implicit, and it’s done entirely via lack of light and the profound commitment and specificity of the actors.

What I didn't like

I agree with others that a black box would have served the show even more. (Though it’s extra impressive that they were able to transport us to a coal mine from that shitty beige dance studio.) I also think someone’s suggestion to add smell is great, and could easily be done in a more permanent set up than a Fringe festival by adding some large open bags of soil. My main actual struggle with the show was that the combination of the period language/colloquialisms/idioms/vernacular with the strong southern accents made the text hard for me to follow at times. I would say I was following and comprehending the language about 50% of the time. It was akin to seeing a Shakespeare piece. Luckily, the acting was strong and specific enough that even when I couldn’t follow the text I still had a general sense of what was going on, but I would have liked to have been able to follow the language more. But still, the show is excellent in most ways.

My overall impression

Super crafted and smart. By very simple means, the show manages to fully immerse you deep into a coal mine in West Virginia in the 1970s, and does so in a powerfully visceral way.

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