Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne

August 8, 2018 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆  Resonantly musical

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue30): Sat 4– Mon 27 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

Tuneful and beautifully open-hearted, Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne deserves the widest possible audience.

This is a follow-up to singer and violist Campbell’s first solo theatre show, the acclaimed Pulse.

Campbell has a long connection to the song that Burns may have borrowed, tweaked or just pretended to have appropriated. Her version with The Cast helped to popularise the earlier tune that Burns’s publishers apparently did not like, popping up most incongruously in the movie version of Sex And The City.

Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne. Pic: Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston

Mairi Campbell. Pic: Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston

The choice of title is a clever one, as it will have currency far beyond the folk world and far outwith Scotland. There is some information about the song’s history and meaning (notably useful if you have ever wondered what ‘a right gude willie waught’ can possibly be) but, much in the style of the earlier show, this is a much more personal exploration.

It takes up the story of Campbell’s musical journey where Pulse left off, as well as including musings on her earlier and later life, on music, friendship and love. You certainly do not need to have seen that other production to appreciate this, however.



Campbell and co-creator and director Kath Burlinson have once again created a wonderfully crafted show, with Dave Gray’s atmospheric music and Claire Lamond’s delicate animation adding greatly to the effect. There is even an opportunity to join in (in a thoroughly non-threatening, gently inclusive way).

Auld Lang Syne does not quite match up to Pulse in terms of that production’s tremendous coherence. This time round, it seems to be more of a collection of elements grouped around a central theme, rather than a story that demands to be told in exactly this way.

hard-won emotional moments

However, this is compensated for by Campbell having grown even more in stature as a performer. Her command of the stage and rapport with the audience are first rate, and there are hard-won emotional moments.

Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne. Pic: Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston

Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne. Pic: Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston

The late Ornette Coleman was supposedly wont to differentiate between those performers who just had an instrument and those who had a Music. Music simply flows out of Campbell here, whether in a more traditional setting, performing newer material (Green So Gentle is a song that demands a much wider hearing), veering towards free-form viola with an electronic backing or – bizarrely – covering 10cc.

This is an affecting and involving production that enhances Campbell’s growing reputation as a maker of music theatre shows and deserves to be every bit as long-running and garlanded as Pulse was.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30), 43-45 High St, EH1 1SR
Saturday 4 – Monday 27 August 2018
Daily (not Mon 13, Mon 20) at 4.30 pm.
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/mairi-campbell-auld-lang-syne
Mairi Campbell website: https://mairicampbell.scot
Facebook: @MairiCampbellOfficial
Twitter: @mairimusic

Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne. Pic: Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston

Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne. Pic: Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston

ENDS

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