There are a whole host of tiny Scottish islands, many stretching miles north of the mainland. Naturally this brings a whole host of problems to residents – huge population decrease (especially amongst young people), a lack of investment, and some very rainy weather (although that certainly applies to my experiences of mainland Scotland too). Amy Draper takes these serious issues as the starting point for her new musical Islander and takes them to an extreme. Eilidh is now the only child left on the tiny island of Kerrin and her problems, and their solutions, are told beautifully simplistically through a child’s eyes.
Thought the 1 hour and 15 minutes we follow Eilidh as she contends with the closure of her school, the resulting loss of her teacher mother to the “bigland” and the possibility of the whole island being resettled. Then she meets a mysterious stranger on the beach and myth and reality collide.
With two beautiful voices (Kirsty Findlay and Bethany Tennick) singing some equally beautiful Scottish folk songs, it is easy to be transported to the island of Kerrin. What makes this musical unique though is the use of looping technology to provide a rich depth of harmonies which really captures the slightly eerie atmosphere of legends of the past coming back to surround Eilidh. It’s easy to understand why this show was voted best musical of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. It’s something totally new and different which is very refreshing in an industry which is becoming, understandably, more and more reliant on jukebox musicals and musicals based on existing stories.
I didn’t always understand the story, and I didn’t always understand the accents, but I did lose myself in the melodies and voices and I did enjoy the use of technology to create something new. An enjoyable evening.
Review by Emily Diver
Eilidh stares out to sea and dreams of a new life beyond her lonely island. Myth and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto her beach, changing her life forever. Epic storytelling, intimately staged with a contemporary Scottish folk-inspired score.
Director – Amy Draper
Lighting Designer – Simon Wilkinson
Lighting Design Associate – Robbie Butler
Book – Stewart Melton
Music & Lyrics – Finn Anderson
Stage Manager/Operator – Jasmin Davies
Kirsty Findlay and Bethany Tennick
Helen Milne Productions, in association with Southwark Playhouse, presents
Islander: A New Musical
Conceived by Amy Draper, Book by Stewart Melton and Music & Lyrics by Finn Anderson
2 – 26 OCTOBER 2019