Pulse is a clever show. Covering the time from Mairi Campbell’s final year at world famous conservatoire, Guildhall in London, and journeying to the present day where she has found her heartbeat, her pulse, the vein that runs through her Scottish music journey. The show tells a story through music, drama and dance written by Campbell herself in collaboration with director, Kath Burlinson.
The story starts with Campbell finishing up her musical education and yet, for her and the audience, the journey is only just beginning. Campbell felt stifled at Guildhall and like they had taken the heart, the pulse, away from her music. They had taken the love and the creativity away. She returned to Lismore and was encouraged by the locals to go and ‘find herself.’
The show then takes us to Mexico where she describes a humorous lust for the wrong man and on to Cape Breton where she finds just what she is looking for – something new (yet old) and exciting – step dance.
Campbell plays viola passionately and the show builds to a crescendo of beats from her feet through her body to the voicing of her true emotions and how creativity comes from curiosity and being brave enough to experiment. It is hard in a one-woman show to keep the energy going and the audience captivated, but with little other than her instrument and a flat stone pendulum symbolising her Highland crofting roots, Campbell manages it with aplomb.
Her plain costume seems an odd choice in a show full of personality and a homecoming of who she has become and where she could travel next – changing costumes for different time periods or a splash of colour might have added some more spark to this clearly ‘sparky’ woman.