Review - Islander: A New Musical
The hype is real – there’s a reason this show sold out at Edinburgh Fringe, and it’s because of the show’s unique concept of creating the entire world with a set of loop pedals and two incredible voices, and the two powerhouse performers and the show’s strong creative team.
A family friendly tale of friendship, identity and belonging, Islander is set on a small Scottish island faced with change – to stay, or to move to the mainland and abandon their history and way of life for a more sustainable life on the ‘big land’. Eilidh, a lonely girl living with her grandmother, finds a whale, and then a stranger washed up on the beach, and is swept up in the mystery, myth and adventure of what happens next.
This perfectly lovely show combines incredible singing with incredible story telling, with Kirsty Findlay and Bethany Tennick creating an entire world with their perfect harmonies, boundless energy and ability to quickly change characters and accents. The two performers are completely in sync: Findlay bustles with energy, from controlling the loop pedals to a Scottish accent so thick this Australian could not follow, and Tennick (who turns out I already have seen on stage as Sarah in Burns: A Lost Legacy) is full of youth and exuberance and both performers bounce between characters with grace and real distinction.
The show is pure art with dark humour, longing and loneliness and a desperate want for connection and friendship: it feels like a Scottish folk tale, with Scottish folk style songs created by Finn Anderson (who’s work I also saw in Edinburgh, as the created of Limbo: City of Dreams). His gorgeous sound and concept conceived and directed by Amy Draper, with book by Stewart Melton are a rich tapestry of story telling, adventure and youthfulness.
The use of loop pedals cannot be understated here – all of the sounds on stage are created (or were prerecorded) by Findlay and Tennick, from the singing and layering of melodies and harmonies to the sounds of helicopters, whale song and waves, these two performers can do anything.
The show is intimately staged, with microphones, the loop pedals and a music stand and a rolling crate completing the set, once again relying on the talent of the performers to take you on a journey through the different settings and characters of the show. The beauty of the show is it’s simplicity and the ridiculous talent that have come together to create it.
A unique and beautiful show not to be missed in its off West End debut – Islander plays at Southwark Playhouse in the Little until 26 October. Tickets and more info.