Islander: A New Musical @ Summerhall

Islander is an immersive, elemental and beautiful musical reflection of life in Scotland's island communities

Review by Mirren Wilson | 06 Aug 2019
  • Islander, A New Musical @ Roundabout, Summerhall

On her island home, young Eilidh stumbles across a whale calf with a song to share. This moment sets her challenging journey in motion as she makes new friends, questions her family relationships and the future of her home life. As part of the 2019 Made in Scotland Showcase, Islander: A New Musical – produced by Helen Milne and written by Stewart Melton – is presented in the wonderfully intimate Roundabout space at Summerhall.

The two Scottish performers are the main credit of this show. Bethany Tennick balances bubbliness and gut as Eilidh, while Kirsty Findlay finds lots of innocent humour as Arran, the newcomer to this land. These sirens will race you through seas of emotion as they live-record and layer their own voices with stunning harmonies and complex rhythms. Think Pitch Perfect meets Disney’s Brave; expect acapella melodies with strong Scottish folk vibes. Finn Anderson has created a truly enchanting score full of fire and feeling.

Director Amy Draper has focused on communicating an island community feel that is warm and present throughout. From trivial moments of 'someone has stolen my garden gnome' to the big decisions of whether to stay or leave the island, this piece is successful in creating an honest and detailed world. In saying that, with a lot of action going on it’s easy to get lost in the multiple characters of the story. Some of the dialogue scenes are hard to settle in to after bursts of music, but the overall arc has a subtle swirling motion that keeps a good pace.

Full of Scottish mystery and wonder, this is a lovely family show rich in cultural understanding that reminds you to appreciate your friends, family and home. It’s immersive, elemental and beautiful.

Islander: A New MusicalSummerhall (Roundabout), until 25 Aug (not 13 or 20), 10am, £8-15