Move was first performed by Disaster Plan on the Isle of Lewis at the start of 2020. 19 months on – and with a lot of water under the proverbial bridge later – the company is presenting the show at Silverknowes Beach in association with Slung Low and the Traverse Theatre.
On arrival, we’re given an audio player and headphones, and shown from the boardwalk down to the beach. There, we meet five women and a series of interwoven stories that take us across continents, seas and centuries. We skip from ancient Egypt to the Highland Clearances, to Colombia, then Greece and Glasgow, via a selkie or two. Yet while the women live in different times, with different sorts of difficulties, they’re united by the loss of people they love.
The show is an exploration of grief. Of mourning rituals. Of the devastation that comes with a death. The windswept, spartan beach and tonight’s louring (but considerately dry) sky was the perfect melancholy backdrop. Julia Taudevin’s script skips effortlessly between wryly sharp dialogue, poetic prose, and song, inspired by Gaelic songs, Celtic folklore, and international songs about love, loss, and saying goodbye.
The performers (Mairi Morrison, Beldina Odenyo, Helen Katamba, Nerea Bello and Taudevin herself) are majestic amidst the stormy sky, wandering dog walkers, and even a windsurfer striding up the beach out of the water. Intertwined with the music, Matt Angove’s soundscape beautifully balances the lapping of the waves with the quick-smart dialogue and the entrancing vocal harmonies. Needless to say, theatre in person is a total treat but this production, with its Cramond Island backdrop, cleverly timeless costumes (courtesy of Catherine Barthram) and occasional visual effects, offers some extraordinarily fine tableaus.
Despite the subject matter, this isn’t a gloomy play. Though it was written pre-pandemic, its exploration of whether collective mourning can heal is eerily pertinent. Above all, Move celebrates the human spirit; the need to be connected to people, however much we might wish we didn’t. It reminds us of the fight we make to cling to life – despite its horrors – and the solace that comes from thinking that, in our grief, we aren’t alone.
A digital on-demand version will be available from 24 August 2021.