Editors' pick

Cry of the Mountain

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Cry of the Mountain photo
Courtesy of Capital Fringe Festival
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Editorial Review

Capital Fringe Festival: ‘Cry of the Mountain’

By Nelson Pressley
Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rock-solid Fringe show: “Cry of the Mountain.” It’s a verbatim drama conceived and performed by Adelind Horan based on interviews she conducted about the hazards of coal mining, with a particular interest in the technique known as mountaintop removal.

Horan plays a dozen people she talked to, from mining executives to workers to environmental activists. The words are theirs, and Horan impersonates them simply, with a few basic costume changes and accent shifts. She’s younger than the show’s promotional material makes her look — 23 according to the Web site of Charlottesville’s Whole Theatre, where Horan created this.

She shows a lot of poise, and unmistakable purpose. The hour-long performance gives a troubling account of modern mining, from defining what coal is (carbon and not possibly “clean,” according to one expert) to the processes of getting at it and why we can’t get off it. It’s unapologetic agitprop and compelling drama in the same way that documentaries can make compelling movies. You learn something, and the human stories Horan shares put flesh on troubling facts.

Bud Branch adds Appalachian flavor by bridging scenes with his banjo playing, and it’s a nice touch. But this is Horan’s show. There’s nothing flamboyant about the way she glides from character to character; she’s all business, giving herself to these people and to the mountains.