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Butcher Holler Here We Come (Review)

By Joe Gorman · June 3rd, 2013 · Fringe
There were more than 120,000 coal miners working in West Virginia in 1968. With the recent mountaintop removal process, when huge dragline machines have scraped away 500 mountains from the top down throughout Appalachia, only 20,000 miners remain employed in West Virginia. These miners focus on veins of coal, literally hollowing out the mountain, leaving depleted tunnels, often flooded with water. No matter which process is used to extract coal, it carries a heavy price for the environment, the coal miners, their families, their culture and their communities.

Brooklyn-based Aztec Economy’s production of Butcher Holler Here We Come provides an intense, funny, scary, dark experience for a little over an hour regarding the effects of a cave collapse on five coal miners.

Visiting the basement space of the Main Street bar called MOTR, you are immersed in a claustrophobic world very few of us will ever experience.

Aztec Economy is comprised of five excellent actors with an engrossing, serious script that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the show. They have helmet lights that bounce around the black cave; unsettling and erratic movements further heighten tension. The actors move in and around the audience, further putting you in close proximity to the action.

After the collapse, the miners have to determine exactly where they are in the mountain. Try to imagine finding your way out of the ground, digging into the wall, which might contain a flooded or methane gas-filled, closed-off mine. The life-and-death situation for the miners is occasionally tempered bits of humor: Instead of answering, “Yes,” a miner says, “Does Dolly Partin sleep on her back?”

See the show, and be prepared to leave a piece of your soul in the dark space at MOTR. I was thankful to see the sun when I walked out of this production.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday at MOTR Pub. Find more of CityBeat's ongoing 2013 Cincy Fringe Festival coverage, including performance reviews, commentary and venue details, here.



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