Part story-telling, part musical meditation, The Village And The Road ponders the problem of rural depopulation as villages and towns empty out and people gravitate, moth-like to the cities. Tom Pow has travelled the world and put this script together based on gathered oral tradition, on words in other languages that defy translation but denote wandering or settling and his own observations about the pace and peace of village life alongside the magnetic pull of the road.
What in our nature, he questions, makes us seek to keep travelling? What causes a village to lose its way and eventually die out? And can that village be healed by migration – by all the people in today’s troubled world that risk everything by leaving their homeland and aiming for a new place they perceive to be safe?
Woven around Pow’s dialogue, The Galloway Agreement have crafted a musical landscape inspired by folk traditions across Europe and beyond. The group is a quartet with Wendy Stewart both singing and on a harp, Ruth Morris with the incredible nyckelharpa (a mind-blowing lovechild of a violin and a hurdy gurdy), Gavin Marwick on the fiddle and Stuart Macpherson on the double bass. The varied musical influences help this road unfold outside the theatre, combining with Pow’s dialogue to evoke pine trees on mountain tops, crossroads at which every branch of the road beckons and the endless thrill of wondering what might be round the corner.
Lovely sound design (courtesy of Mr Macpherson) including some pre-recorded testimonials, careful lighting (Andrew Wilson) and elegant, thoughtful direction from Matthew Zajac see the story unfold at a lyrical, leisurely pace. This piece is more of a meditation than a play that offers any answers, though Pow is emphatic that whatever our circumstances, we all have a visceral, almost tangible sense of what it is to be home.