Atlantic – A Scottish Story – Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Assembly Mound, Rainy Hall

Atlantic – A Scottish Story, performed by students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, continues at the Assembly Mound, Rainy Hall until 27 August (odd dates only).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

Playing to a sold-out house, A Scottish Story offers an unusual take on the oft-repeated story of the diaspora of Scotland.

Flouting the convention of the greatest Scottish export being her people, this show also looks at those who chose to stay.

We begin with the way the ocean can capture the imagination of the islanders as it is all around, inviting them to look ‘beyond’.  Roots and tradition are taught here: the island depends on people staying and becoming successful and accomplished.

The central character, Evie, is brilliantly delivered by Caroline Lyell – a flame-haired, beguiling bundle of talent who is a genuine triple threat.

Evie’s story begins in her childhood and takes us through to her own motherhood and beyond. Her performance is spot-on throughout – an absolute pleasure to witness.

In counterpoint, her childhood friend, Sloane, leaves the island for America as soon as he’s old enough. His frequent letters back to Evie ( his ‘sidekick’) allow her to live vicariously through the descriptions of his adventures.

Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie have created a mature, thought-provoking piece with a clear story, beautifully told with a refreshing perspective.

The score is ravishing in places with resonance to traditional Scottish music in rhythm and musical scales. Sadly, lyrics are lost here and there – a frequent issue in Fringe staging – and ought to be addressed so the audience can appreciate the details currently being lost.

Staging is clear and avoids becoming overly fussy. The sequence of Evie in the water is particularly well done.

Congratulations to all involved. This is a work of great promise for future development.

Fiona Orr

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