Land Under Wave

Aug 22 2023 | By More

★★★★☆     Inclusive

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30): Thu 3 – Sun 27 Aug 2023
Review by Allan Wilson

Land Under Wave, presented by the Young Edinburgh Storytellers, is a beautifully inclusive combination of traditional music and storytelling, brought up to date for the 21st century.

The three very talented musicians and storytellers of Y.E.S., Mark Borthwick, Ailsa Dixon and David Hughes, provide a friendly atmosphere throughout the performance. Before the show begins, they are mingling in the queue, welcoming people, asking if they are faerie folk and passing on gifts of painted pine cones.

David Hughes and Mark Borthwick. Pic: Y.E.S.

In the theatre, the audience are encouraged to shed their human vestiges and imagine that we are all faeries in a safe space. The three performers explain how they have been trapped in the underworld and can only be freed by the Faerie Queen through telling stories with nourishing wisdom for the people above. A male member of the audience is selected to take on the role of the Faerie Queen and is presented with a crown of twigs to symbolise their authority.

Hughes begins the storytelling with a moving and informative depiction of the life cycle of a salmon, highlighting how many are spawned every year, and how few survive to reproduce. Dixon adds a queer twist to a traditional Kelpie story, with a young woman falling in love with a female Kelpie.


The third story, told by Borthwick, has a strong environmental theme, looking at the decline of the traditional fishing industry and the growth of commercial salmon farming.

The audience get to vote for the story they feel that people most need to hear, by throwing the pine cones they received earlier in the general direction of the person whose story seemed most relevant for today’s listeners.

Ailsa Dixon. Pic: Y.E.S.

Before the vote, members of the audience are reminded that while a good story has the power to cast an enchantment, only a great story can break an enchantment. After some mad rushing around to gather the cones, the votes are counted and the winner receives the winner’s crown from the Faerie Queen.

There is one final story from Borthwick, a variation of the ancient tale of how Fionn mac Cumhaill gained the wisdom and insight from the Salmon of Knowledge that enabled him to avenge the death of his father and take his rightful place as leader of the Fianna.

atmospheric accompaniments

Throughout the evening, the three performers demonstrate that their musical skills are as great as their talents for storytelling, with Borthwick’s bodhran and harmonium combining well with Hughes’ electric guitar and Dixon’s cello to provide very atmospheric accompaniments for the stories.

Land Under Wave is a delightful production, highlighting the musical and storytelling skills of three young people with amazing ability, all sharing a queer identity. They are already making a mark as storytellers whose lives can bring new perspectives to the field.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Netherbow Theatre), 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR (Venue 30)
Thursday 3 – Sunday 27 Aug
Daily (odd dates & 16, not 17): 5.45pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Y.E.S. links

Facebook: @YES – Young Edinburgh Storytellers

Instagram: @youngedistorytellers

David Hughes, Mark Borthwick and Ailsa Dixon. Pic: Y.E.S.



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