Written and performed by award winning singer-songwriter Karine Polwart and developed by the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, this one-woman performance flies into Inverness for one night only. In front of a packed audience, Karine weaves her spell through dialogue and song, reminiscence, visual projections and soundscapes to explore her relationship with the Fala Moor near her home in Pathhead, Midlothian. This is the wintering ground for pink-footed geese and a Special Protected Area of Wetland under European environmental statutes.
She sits alone on a set full of significant objects and instruments which come to demonstrate different aspects of her philosophical musings throughout the performance. She links the explanations and stories with various instrumental excerpts and songs, treating the audience to her repertoire and haunting vocal skills. The image of the goose skein returns again and again as she describes it as an intrinsic dance of togetherness.
Within her storytelling and music lies a deeper significance as she relates her personal experience of motherhood and birth to the earlier innovations of the medieval monastic hospital which existed on the moor at Soutra Hill. Within this section of the piece lies a deeper political message about modern austerity, creeping isolation and individualism. We get the idea that perhaps going back to the curative botanicals from the moor used by the early monks and midwives might not be a bad thing. Of special pleasure is her careful distillation downstage of each herb and the chant which accompanies.
The opening of the second half is a delightful exposition of How the Spruce Became Evergreen adapted from the late Duncan Williamson’s telling of it, as printed in Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children. As she sits downstage she draws the audience again into her world. For those in the audience who are football fans the recounting of her enjoyment of the sport and its special moments is a lively spot in this abstract collection of thoughts and connections.
In the end, her connection with the bogs and moor defines the piece throughout, drawing out personal experiences and worries though songs and conversations with the audience. Throughout the whole two hours she performs directly for you.
This is a carefully crafted piece of theatre, technically adept and performed by a skilful solo artist and musician. The content probably resonates more with women in the audience, but there is no doubt that it is a spellbinding evening for all.