Islander on Radio 4

Jan 27 2021 | By More

Award-winning musical hits the airwaves

Amy Draper’s two-hander musical Islander, a sell-out hit at the Fringe of 2019, has had a new interpretation for radio and is available on BBC Sounds.

Performed and sung by Kirsty Findlay and Bethany Tennick, it won the Musical Theatre Review’s Best Musical Award at the Fringe when it appeared at the Paines Plough Roundabout in Summerhall.

Islander promotional image. Pic: Jassy Earl

Stewart Melton’s musical book tells of Eilidh, the only child left on a remote island where everyone is relocating to the mainland. Even her own mother has left and she has to stay with her gran. It’s a tale of loss and discovery, the nature of trust and the power of nature.

To enhance the etherial feel of the tale, precipitated when Eilidh finds a dying whale calf on a beach, Finn Anderson’s music is all echoing, folk-infused vocals, built up in layers by the two performers using electronic looping techniques.

We reviewed the original production, conceived and directed by Draper and produced by Helen Milne Productions when it was at the Roxy in 2018.

expansive, ethereal soundscape

Tennick and Findlay – who won an Olivier along with the rest of the West End cast of Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour – create the music, sound effects and an island full of different characters.

Seeing it performed live, you can appreciate the two actors’ skill in recording and layering their voices as they create all the sound effects, building them into an expansive, ethereal soundscape for the ears and imagination.

The YouTube acoustic video linked below, of Tennick and Findlay performing Splitting of the Islands from the show, gives something of an idea.

“Adapting a 90-min stage show into a 43-min audio musical was a challenge for sure!” composer Finn Anderson noted on Twitter, just before the Radio 4 broadcast, “But its heart remains intact.”

And listening to the radio adaptation, while that element of witnessing the creation process is missing, the heart of Islander is certainly beating proud in Pauline Norris’s fine direction for the air waves.

Listing and Links

Islander radio adaptation
Running time: 44 minutes.
Available until Sunday 21 February 2021.
BBC Radio Sounds. Click here for link.

Islander Original Cast Recording
Available on Spotify: Click here.

Islander review
Our review of the 2018 production: ★★★★☆ Etherial.


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Comments (1)

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  1. Chris says:

    Wow. Loved it. How can I hear this again?