“There is a whale…”
When Eilidh finds a beached whale whilst roaming the shoreline of her home in the remote Scottish Isles, she hears it sing and her life is forever changed. Then, stranger still, a girl washes up after it. What she claims is so unlikely it can’t possibly be true, but then the islands have always been places of myth and of magic.
Who knew all it took was two performers, two microphones a loop pedal and some dry ice to whisk you away to a remote Scottish island? The beautiful round space of the Roundabout and Simon Wilkinson’s gorgeous lighting design also lend themselves to the production, but the minimalism and the level of production produced from it is absolutely stunning. They don’t need rubber whales or buckets of sand, just their voices and the stamping of their feet, from which every song and sound is created. It is breathtakingly intimate.
“An ancient-feeling myth, in a modern context”
The songs have a strong Scottish-folk influence, this show more than deserving of it’s part in the 2019 ‘Made in Scotland’ Showcase. Both exceptional performers trained in Scotland. There are also playful elements, such as creating and threading in video phone call notification sounds. An ancient-feeling myth, in a modern context.
No remote Scottish island is paradise though it may look it from afar, and the world of the island community comes together in slightly fraught community meetings. Conflict comes from anxiety over separation. There is no longer a school and so Eilidh’s mother has taken her siblings to ‘the big land’ while she continues to learn remotely, another soon-to-be-mother must make the journey for a hospital, other islanders risk losing their homes over repairs and being relocated against their will. Sometimes I would rather have liked to spend a little longer in fantasy land and these interruptions can hold up the more magical elements of the plot. It’s about the only time I noticed the children in the front row getting twitchy. However, its conflicts make it a firm part of the now, a true modern Scottish musical and not just airy-fairy.
“What defines where our home is? Is it the place, or the people?”
‘Islander’ Asks important questions about our sense of ‘home’ and how it comes to define our identity. What defines where our home is? Is it the place, or the people? The sea is a constant presence in the text, the songs the sound and lighting design. It protects and nurtures life, simultaneously it also traps, separates and takes life away. What it will always be, is magical, like this beautiful musical.