As someone who was born in and grew up in wales all his life, I do possess that unnatural sense of patriotism that welsh people have which is only exaggerated during rugby games despite not being that into the game but still have a passion and desire for us to always be the best which doesn’t particularly make sense but that welsh culture for you. Also being a fan of musicals theatre for the longest time, when a musical is set in Wales it peaks my excitement instantly. A few years ago I went to see a production of Tiger Bay (which is both a musical and based in Wales, so both boxes ticked!) which was fantastic so I was very excited to find out that ‘My Shores Land’ was another musical set in Wales which exceed the already high expectations. I love that Wales is getting an opportunity to showcase its culture and the musical itself could be the medium that helps to put wales truly on the map in the musical realm.
The story of ‘My Lands Shore’ follows the life Dic Pendryn (also known as Richard Lewis) who was a Welsh labourer and coal miner from Merthyr Tydfil who was an important figurehead in the Merthyr rising protest. I have to be honest I had never actually heard of the Merthyr rising before despite living in wales my entire life. For those who don’t know what it is, after a depression in 1829 which led to many coal miners losing their jobs but also increased poverty and starvation. In 1831 a group of iron and coal miners staged a protest which was met with resistance from Brecon who shot and killed over two dozen of the protesters and wounding hundreds more which was described as one of the most bloody and ferocious events in industrial Britain. Richard was the sentence to death by hanging for the attempted murder of a shoulder and his violent death was used as a symbol for the working class. I am honestly really disappointed in the fact that I had never heard about this horrendous event in welsh history before and so not only was this show insanely powerful but also educational.
Overall this show is very dramatic and powerful that also portrays Celtic ideas/motifs. The album contains violins throughout which helps tie together the inclusion of music within the sphere of the show’s narrative which is very clever inclusion. The majority of the songs are so vividly powerful that it easily generated a visualisation of the cast performing them. The opening number ‘Burning’ is such a wonderfully grand and dramatic ensemble number that instantly grabs you and pulls you into the musical world. The next song ‘The Way Things Are’ is a beautifully performed by Rhiannon Sarah Porter who is a very talented performer with an amazing voice. Despite how wonderful this song was to listen to, I did feel as if this subdued and emotional song was a bit too soon in the playlist. The opening song was a big ensemble number crammed full of energy and this song brought the pace down again which for me was too soon. Don’t get me wrong it’s a fantastic song but I do think it’s placement within the album could have been altered. One of my favourite numbers in this musical was “Love in the Edge of Our Tears” was another phenomenal performance by Rhiannon alongside Jonathan Williams who are each talented singers in their own right but their voices worked together perfectly to create a wonderful song. Johnathan Williams also delivered a noteworthy performance during the titular song “My Lands Shore” which was a powerfully delivered song that is all about giving everything for the course they are fighting for. The passion and drive underpinning this song were portrayed so clearly that I felt empowered to fight alongside the rest of the characters.
The song titled ‘The War Machine’ can only be described as a musical journey. I had to stop the song half-way through as it was such an intense and dramatic song. The performer in this song was Alexis James who portrayed the anger and desperation of the characters song and gave me literal goosebumps and reminded me in some senses of Judas from Jesus Christ Superstar do to the rock influences. The finale song is an extremely political and powerful ensemble number that entices patriotism even from the most subdued listener. What is very unusual about this song is that after the finale song there are other songs I imagine these are bonus tracks that do not appear in the live version of this musical. I enjoyed the bonus track ‘An Air For a Wise Celtic Fool’ which was a wonderfully performed song. This was probably my favourite song in the entire show and I would be very disappointed if this does not appear in the show as it is both emotional and whimsical at times.
Overall, this is a very powerful show that shows simulators to other rebellion based shows such as Les Miserables. Not only does this musical contains amazing songs that are beautifully performed but also is education as the Merthyr Rising is something I had never heard of both but I am so glad I am no aware of this horrendous event in welsh history. I would rate this show as 5 out of 5 stars and imagine the songs are only more impactful when performed live!