Written by David Greig, ‘The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart’ provides a striking celebration of Border Ballads, full of both satirical wit and moments of heart wrenching beauty. Prudencia Hart is a high-strung academic, who after becoming caught in a snowy Kelso takes a journey of self-discovery and emotional awakening via a series of enchanting encounters, comic characters and Katy Perry karaoke.
Combining stirring folk music and balladry with the contemporary Greig has recognized the power of creating a hybrid of both old and new, and combining this with an innovative use of the Ghillie Dhu bar space by director Wils Wilson the magic of the afternoon performance is continually sustained – the snow our heroine finds herself stranded by is conjured buy the audience’s torn napkins, the ice cold air invoked by the chiming of glasses, and the venue’s bar transforming from car to lecture hall. A violin solo in the second half of the performance had me in shivers as the humour of Greig’s satirical ballad retreated for moments of haunting poignancy. The music is a definite highlight, with each member of the cast having not only a confident singing voice but also skills branching a variety of instruments, from bagpipes to guitar, drums to recorders, complementing the folk inspired soundtrack and even coming together to create a mesmerizing discordant reworking of a Kylie Minogue track at the end. What with such an intricate script and impassioned soundtrack one does consider whether the company has considered a radio translation of the piece. Either way enjoyment is ensured – grab a ticket now.