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The Good Earth

Members say: Great acting, Great singing, Ambitious, Absorbing, Thought-provoking
14 reviews
81 reviews

Direct from its hit run in the U.K. comes Motherlode Theatre's drama about a Welsh community torn apart by its council, big business, and, eventually, its people.

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Facing pressure from the local council to move when a new development is proposed, a small group of ardent Welsh villagers decides to fight back. Developed in residency in Wales' Rhondda Valley with one of the few remaining ex-mining halls, this vibrant piece is inspired by real-life events, and features rousing Welsh folk songs and physical theater sequences.


Cast & Creatives (15)

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Reviews (95)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

"A wonderfully acted new play by the Welsh company Motherlode, whose gorgeous, often solemn a cappella soundscape breathes the villagers’ very heritage into the air…The precise nature of the conflict in the play is not as clear as it could be…Without that clarity, the ending lacks the power it needs. Even so, this 80-minute play flies by. Comic and celebratory, melodic and mournful, it’s an elegy for a place that’s not dead yet." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"It's a rich situation, but it suffers in the presentation…The company's acting style is broadly stylized…Clearly, Motherlode is a collective of enterprising artists, and there is real vigor and more than a little talent onstage. There is, however, a fundamental disconnect between story and storytelling here…A fascinating situation is flattened out, purposely rendered in two-dimensional terms. Time and again, we get glimpses of intriguing details that nobody seems interested in illuminating." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"An energetic but rocky play…Of complexity, there isn't much…And although there doesn't necessarily need to be, a little might temper what is otherwise an overly brash and bombastic evening…The roundly broad and often shouty performances do not match the specifically inward-looking nature of the writing…Worse, certain key concepts that might better support this are not developed as fully as they could be." Full Review


"Boulton directed the production and her work in that regard is perfection. Visually it’s a small-scale spectacle and a great display of physical theater yielding precise and vivid imagery. The actors forcefully conjure up so much with only their voices and bodies. Their characterizations are all uniformly vibrant, bold and emotional. Narrative momentum slows in the second half, but 'The Good Earth's' superior stagecraft carries it through to its moving conclusion." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"This production balletically utilizes the furniture to raise tension (it does) and embody upheaval…Sound is clear, crisp and hauntingly arranged. Musical direction by Max Mackintosh is splendid...Stylization works for the piece, except perhaps in the portrayal of Jackie, who appears a spastic caricature...The company all have fine voices and move with precision and energy. Facial expressions are priceless…Mike Humphreys is a wonderful James: proud, tender, imaginative, and manly." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"A thought-provoking, gripping play about physical vs. spiritual survival…Directed with style by Rachael Boulton, the show makes for a compelling experience…The show presents us with endless opportunities for empathy, both in the intimate scale, but also on a collective one...We can’t help but feel a moral obligation to leave the theater and demand that governmental institutions help fulfill our needs, which makes 'The Good Earth,' rousing political theatre of the best kind." Full Review


"The play doesn’t infuse the drama with stakes that seem high enough to account for those extremes of feeling which culminate in James’s defiant, climactic speech to the Council...But despite its flaws, this collaboratively written play is very well worth seeing for the marvelous performances; for the sheer, stripped grandeur of the clever minimalist staging; for the troupe’s mastery of meta-theatricality to create a livid, vivid world; and for its overall emotional punch." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"A brilliant endeavor...For Boulton, contributing as actor and director can be an enormous challenge, but she excels in both roles…The cast of five actors give strong performances which highlight their mastery of comic physical storytelling and robust vocal abilities...Overall, 'The Good Earth' is an expertly devised physical theater piece that is as humorous as it is heartbreaking; and a confirmation that inspired storytelling can activate and move its listeners." Full Review

The Reviews Hub

"This cast is extraordinary. The ensemble work is stunning and the ownership of every moment of the script is absolutely gripping...All breathe incredible passion and specificity into their roles...Under Boulton’s guidance, the small-town culture and the ire at displacement by a faceless entity is palpable...This production is simple and direct, joyous and heartbreaking...'The Good Earth' transports the audience to Wales and makes the experience of one small village resonate around the globe." Full Review

British Theatre Guide

for a previous production "The performances cannot be faulted…Director Rachael Boulton is instantly relatable as Dina…The dialogue is sharper and funnier than one might have expected from a devised production…Motherlode has created a piece which, for all its emotional manipulativeness, is visually arresting and very well acted. Whether it is a subversively complex take on the eternal struggle between town and country, however, or simply a muddled one will be for the viewer to judge." Full Review

The Reviews Hub

for a previous production "A strong, polished script that is gripping and moving...The commitment of the cast and their complete belief in the surroundings that they are creating transports the audience through street, mountain and river, council offices to the comfort of home...Although the comedy caricature element of each of their characters is a little overdone, they all bring a depth of emotion and poignancy to their roles...May not be quite perfect yet but has the promise to be a truly great piece of theatre." Full Review

Buzz Magazine

for a previous production "An exquisitely constructed piece of theatre that explores the meaning and value of community...The physical relationship of the actors to the simple yet highly evocative setting is a thing of beauty to watch, their movement across the space striking in its detail and precision...Finally, though, what holds this production in the memory is the use of sound and song...The music carries within it the cultural memory of a nation." Full Review


for a previous production "Through the use of Welsh folk song and the physical theatre sequences throughout, the piece exudes an energy that holds the audience attention to its close. Director Rachael Boulton’s staging and keen eye for composition gives the piece the clarity it needs to serve an individual story to represent universal themes...It was all simply stunning...A hilarious and thought-provoking piece that is not to be missed." Full Review

New Welsh Review

for a previous production "Loyalties seem to become loaded with a fatal sense of over-sentimentality as the play progresses, and I was left confused by the message...For me, the play’s essence was its intense, no-holds-barred portrayal of the fictional family’s dynamics...'The Good Earth' may refer back to the 1970s, but this drama is far from retrograde in every other dimension...A gripping script is executed impeccably in this launch project. For this tight team, I’d guess that no mountain is too high." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining, Educative

See it if Have a commitment to the environment and community.

Don't see it if Dislike non-traditional presentation.

Disappointing, Slow, Well acted

See it if You're interested in stories of struggling families and how they try to overcome hardships in their community.

Don't see it if You don't like slower paced small intimate shows or are looking for something cheerful or energetic.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Confusing

See it if Great acting/writing. Creative albeit deja vu staging. Grabbing stories but not sure who author wanted me to root for. Very enjoyable.

Don't see it if Threads left unresolved are not your thing. So many Welsh (?) sung songs left me uncertain if there was something I was missing.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You enjoy good acting and an interesting story in which it is not clear what is "right" and what is "wrong".

Don't see it if You have trouble with thick Welsh accents.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense

See it if Actors on a basically bare stage, multiple roles w/o costume change. Talented cast, small town, harsh measures, how to fight the system.

Don't see it if You like bright, big production shows. This is all about performance and story.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you're interested in historically-based shows -- this definitely inspired me to learn more about the actual underlying events

Don't see it if you're looking for something showy, fluffy, or light hearted. This was pretty intense.

Banal, Disappointing, Excruciating, Insipid, Slow

See it if Just don't bother. I have nothing good to say about this show.

Don't see it if You want to be bored out of your mind. You cannot understand a word they are saying. And what's with the singing?

Great acting, Confusing, Slow

See it if you enjoy a cappella Welsh singing. The singing was the best part of the show for me, I would have liked more of it.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy highly stylized physical theater movements, no matter how well performed. The best scenes were the small, intimate ones.

Intense, Confusing, Cliched, Dated, Great singing

See it if you like stories about Wales, good singing

Don't see it if you don't like amateur productions, lots of banging, furniture moving, and over acting.

Great acting, Intense, Great directing

See it if you like good acting & directing. However the story needs more developing.

Don't see it if constantly moving furniture bothers you. Thought it was interesting in the beginning and then the motion was too much.

Clever, Enchanting, Great acting, Refreshing, Great singing

See it if you would enjoy a great ensemble cast with gorgeous Welsh voices, "working class" plays, & a brilliant performance by Gwenllian Higginson.

Don't see it if you have trouble with accents, do not like to use your imagination to help create the scenes, and prefer straightforward plays.

Honest, Resonant, Great writing, Simple, Heartfelt

See it if you enjoy straightforward stories about how families and communities can react to outside pressures. A talented company of actors. Good book

Don't see it if Low budget staging with tables and chairs. Interstitial staging between scenes weak. You don't like mood singing during plays.

Also Unless it was based in fact, I found the final resolution of the last ... Read more Read less

Original, Ambitious, Great acting, Masterful, Resonant

See it if if you like great things in small packages.

Don't see it if you have trouble with heavy dialects.

Ambitious, Clever, Refreshing, Resonant, Great staging

See it if You like to learn about history thru storytelling with a tight ensemble with strong voices and points of view. With lovely welsh melodies.

Don't see it if You don't want to learn how strong community is. Or have trouble hearing welsh accents.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You like dramatic family struggles against the local government.

Don't see it if Thick Welsh accents are too much for you.

Enchanting, Great acting, Profound

See it if you like good theater

Don't see it if you like comfortable chairs

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Profound, Great singing

See it if You want to be invested in a small town issue that has global implications. You will live with these people and care what happens to them.

Don't see it if You need to have things spelled out for you and fully explained. Authentic Welsh is spoken and sung at times with no translation.

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You like a lot of banging and screaming. And you like to be confused beyond comprehension

Don't see it if See above!

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Slow, Great singing

See it if you're interested in Wales, Welsh songs, family dramas, & more abstract staging

Don't see it if you have difficulty understanding strong Welsh accents. There's a fair amount of UK slang that might be confusing for US audiences too

Original, Enchanting, Quirky, Slow, Great singing

See it if you like a small-town story set in a foreign country; if you like beautiful acapella singing; if you enjoy nonlinear storytelling

Don't see it if you're bothered by episodic storytelling; if you're looking for deep characterization; if you have trouble understanding non-US accents

Slow, Dated

See it if you're enchanted by Welsh accents, some culturally specific folk music, and a little physical theater.

Don't see it if you're not invested in the property rights of rural townspeople. The characters aren't absorbing enough to make up for a tired plot.

Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Slow, Great singing

See it if you enjoy listening to lilting Welsh accents and beautiful acapella singing; you have a good imagination and enjoy avant garde plays.

Don't see it if you love Broadway musicals; you don't like to listen carefully to get the lines; you dislike anything not "real" that requires imagination

Absorbing, Clever, Great singing, Touching

See it if You like complicated stories about communities and the lives of the participants.

Don't see it if You prefer your musicals fully staged, casts with minimal accents, and fully explained plot points.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if you like The Good Earth

Don't see it if you don't like The Good Earth

Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow, Great singing

See it if you don't mind a bare-bones set with just chairs that they move around. You can understand Welsh accents & slang.

Don't see it if you aren't into a cappella singing in Welsh. You aren't into family dramas or how people overcome adversity.