A DECEPTIVELY simple performance, Islander: A New Musical is a contemporary take on epic story-telling and traditional Scottish music.
[star rating = 4/5]
Set on the fictional Scottish island of Kinnen, Islander follows the story of Eilidh, one of the few remaining residents among a slowly dwindling population. Choosing to stay to look after her elderly gran when her mother leaves for the mainland, Eilidh keenly feels the isolation of her life on the island.
Everything changes for the young woman when she befriends a mysterious stranger who is washed ashore and learns that there’s more to the island’s legends than she ever believed to be true.
A truly minimalist production, Islander features just two performers (KIRSTY FINDLAY and BETHANY TENNICK) along with their sound equipment. Through the use of looping techniques, the performers create an ethereal, haunting soundscape, weaving their voices together to evoke the lonely magic of the Scottish isles.
The two performers bring a whole host of island characters to life. From Eilidh and the stranger Arran, to a disgruntled resident searching for his stolen garden gnome, the duo switch fluidly between the wide variety of roles.
Finn Anderson’s quietly powerful music is brought to life by their lush voices with precision and skill. They painstakingly build up the Scottish-inspired score, layering their voices in harmony using the looping equipment to create the wonderfully complex soundscape.
Bringing all this together is a delicate balancing act that could easily go wrong, but Findlay and Tennick make it look easy, which is a testament to their talent and hard work.
Like the soundscape, the storytelling itself of Islander also has many layers. It manages to successfully portray the harsh realities of modern island life caused by lack of investment and infrastructure. However it balances this out by showing the sense of family and pride felt amongst the close-knit island community.
Layering this together with other themes such as friendship, loss, love, family, migration, and the environment, Islander manages to touch on many issues without becoming bogged down in the details or losing its enjoyability as a musical.
It’s this balance and layering that makes it so special. Despite how it may seem at first, Islander is an enchanting musical with more depth than you might think.