Atlantic: A Scottish Story ****

Musicals and Opera

Assembly Hall

Venue 35

15.00 (run ends 27th Aug – ODD dates, not 21st)

 The story is one of life on a remote Scottish island, where the children are taught when very young that men who went out to explore the sea never came back, and that they should be content to live on the island and draw their strength from knowing its landscape, flora and fauna, without wishing to leave.  Quin can’t accept this: he feels called to explore the wider world, and leaves the island.  Evie is drawn to him, as he to her, and wants to go with him – but thinks she has no choice: her family need her to stay on the island and contribute to their support.

 

In following their widely-diverging stories, the show explores whether one should be content with the limitations of the life into which one is born, or look beyond the boundaries to see what else there is in life.  The message is that there is always a choice, and that young people [women particularly?] should explore their options before making decisions about their lives.

 

This was an excellent ensemble piece, with far more warmth, actor-engagement and credibility than I found in the Conservatoire’s production of Into the Woods.  Could this have been because it was in a smaller venue, the actors were not miked up, they had closer with the band – on stage behind them rather than behind the scenes – and above all because we were very close to the action?

 

It was also a far simpler score and story, with lots of folk-type music,(whether genuine or composed I’m not sure), excellent use of Gaelic singing, and ae fond kiss as ever bringing tears to the eye – our Rabbie surely knew what he was doing with that lyric!

 

The cast were excellent, with good ensemble work, excellent choreography, a lovely choral sound when they all sang together, with stirring harmonies; and some outstanding performances – especially Quin (Reed Lancaster) and Evie (Caroline Lyell).  The cast were all very good at being wee children, and the doubling of parts was impressive all round, as were the Scottish accents.  The set was very simple – four pallets which could become a ship’s prow, rocks on the seashore, or the looms in Sloane’s woollen mill – and props were kept to a minimum.

 

This world premiere is one half of a two-part collaboration between the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University in Chicago, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and musical theatre partnership Noisemaker.  Their other offering is Atlantic: America & The Great War: if it’s anywhere as good as this show, it’s well worth seeing too.

 

Mary Woodward