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40th Anniversary Celebrations at Clearwell Caves


Top Contemporary Theatre Company - Pentabus, in association with Kindle Theatre present Underland at Clearwell Caves, Forest of Dean, 11-13 July 2008

The strange beauty of an iron-age cave system is the backdrop for a mythic performance by the renowned Pentabus Theatre working with rising stars Kindle Theatre. Playing for only three nights (11-13 July) in the subterranean depths of Clearwell Caves, Coleford, in the Forest of Dean, Underland melds drama, music, light - and darkness - to astonishing theatrical effect.

In Underland, ancient myths of love and loss are brought to life deep underground by a multi-talented company directed by Pentabus’ award-winning young director Orla O’Loughlin.

Says O’Loughlin: "Underland promises to be a thrilling and inspiring experience for audiences - all you need to bring is a warm jacket and a sense of adventure. The caverns transport you back through time, a place hacked out of the rock by human hands over thousands of years. Clearwell Caves have an incredible, elemental power which brings you face to face with the ancient mysteries - the underworld, creation, ideas of love and redemption. Our show is a celebration of those myths - light and darkness, laughter and loss, life and death."

This is the first time Kindle Theatre have collaborated with Pentabus - the two companies both specialise in dramatic theatre in unusual places, using words, music, and the audience itself, to create powerful and moving performance events, appealing to people across the divide.

The full dramatic potential of the cave setting is being unleashed by a top production team who have worked on recent Pentabus shows including White Open Spaces, which was nominated for a South Bank Show award at the Savoy Hotel last year, and Precious Bane cited as one of the top ten outdoor shows ever by The Guardian.

Underland is based on the story of Persephone who journeyed underground to become wife of Hades and Queen of the Underworld, returning once each year to herald the changing of the seasons. It’s one of the most important and perplexing stories of Greek myth, prompting the Pentabus/ Kindle team to revisit the tale and ask some searching questions for modern audiences.

"We’re not trying to be high-brow here", says Kindle actor-musician Sam Fox, "but rather to unlock this gripping, in some ways disturbing, tale. At root, Underland is about forbidden love, families and finding reconciliation in troubled circumstances. Along the way, we’ll be indulging in some drunken wedding revelries, a bit of mischief and a whole lot of mixed up emotions with the inevitable tears and laughter. It’s going to be a night to remember".

Now celebrating its fortieth anniversary as a museum attraction, Clearwell Caves burrows hundreds of feet under the beautiful Forest of Dean landscape, a perfectly preserved piece of ancient industrial heritage, littered with tools and artefacts spanning generations of mining. The Caves have been used over the years as a spooky film set, perhaps most memorably in recent episodes of Dr Who.

Clearwell Caves’ family owner Jonathan Wright said: "We wanted to do something really special here in 2008 for our 40th anniversary as a museum, so we asked Pentabus if they could put on a show here. They immediately saw the dramatic potential of the place. We think it’s the first time a top-quality theatre show has been put on hundreds of feet down a mine."

Tickets for Underland are available from the box office at Clearwell Caves 01594 832535 or online at

Explore Gloucestershire
25 June 2008

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