Festival Theatre

Wind Resistance

Lyceum Studio, Edinburgh

Keith Bruce

four stars

WITH the assistance of Wils Wilson and David Greig, the partnership behind the National Theatre of Scotland's globally-travelled Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, as well as sound design by Pippa Murphy and movement guidance from Janice Parker, singer-songwriter Karine Polwart has made a very moving hour and a half's theatre of her own life and meticulous, thoughtful observation of the world around her. There are lessons in geography, ornithology, archaeology, chemistry, politics, obstetrics and many other subjects within its hour an a half, and Polwart is absolutely on top of her material in a show that makes impressive, if never overstated, use of audio and visual technology around the performer as it interweaves its stories with great skill.

From her opening description of the Fala Moor location near her home and at the heart of her treatise, depicting the view to all points of the compass, Polwart has the audience hooked. The political message of the sharing of slipstream by a skein of geese, like the cyclists of the peloton, appears at first an aside in a performance that is focused on the environment, and its protection. But in time she mines a much deeper vein in the history of the area and its people, and after the interval takes us too much more personal memories and experiences, drawing the threads carefully together through the example of the geese and chapters in the family history of a neighbour.

A few years back this show would have been on the Fringe, and perhaps thought a little baggy and sentimental there. More than justifying the Festival space created for it, Wind Resistance will likely recoup its Government Expo Funding by taking Polwart's songs and stories on a long journey indeed.