In the winter of 1890 a windswept troupe of actors arrives in a small town, perched on cliffs above the Atlantic. Dragging with them a cartload of scenery and an emaciated pianist, they have come to give a performance of Beethoven’s opera “Fidelio”.
The inhospitable, granite-grey town is in crisis: its once-glorious tin mine, upon which everyone’s livelihood has depended for generations, is on its last legs.
As these different worlds collide, the actors find melodrama spilling over into everyday life and discover that they are not the only ones who survive by appearing to be something they are not.
The actor-manager’s business acumen proves no match for local cunning and she is misled into investing in the mine. When it unexpectedly yields up new treasures, any notion of fair play is abandoned.
Three contrasting love stories unfold as villagers and actors seize an opportunity to transform their lives. As the community’s spiritual leaders come to blows deep underground, a ripping good performance of Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’ is given in the town hall – against all odds.
One strand of the story is based on Edward Bosanketh’s novel ‘Tin’, published in 1888. The protagonists were based on well-known local characters (thinly disguised) and the story exposed the real-life dodgy dealings of the local bank. Subsequently, Bolitho’s Bank attempted to buy and destroy all copies of the book!