Wind Resistance is at once atavistic and modern, an inspired and visceral paean to the resilience of nature and motherhood. Singer Karine Polwart, along with dramaturg, Royal Lyceum Artistic Director David Greig and director Wils Wilson, has skilfully woven her research into 12th century medicine with modern maternity, including the own fraught delivery of her son Arlo. She traces a journey into Midlothian’s moors, framing her own experience around the story of Will and Roberta Sime, a couple from Fala from the early 20th century who were torn apart when Roberta tragically died shortly after giving birth.
Alongside sound designer Pippa Murphy and live sounds from Ben Seal, Polwart whispers and loops her lovely, rich voice into a kind of alchemy- an incantation, a quiet storm of protest against regentrification-profit before people. This is no airy-fairy ‘hello trees’ show,but rather, part lecture, part philosophical storytelling within a gig. It’s a theatrical multimedia project, steeped in history but tentatively looking to the future.
Polwart is endlessly engaging, impish and witty,and her clear voice soars as virtual skylarks and geese fly on the screen above above her.Janice Parker’s movement choreography sees her swooping like a small bird, baggy top billowing behind her. Camilla Clarke’s gorgeous botanical backdrop design, showing these migratory birds filmed by Sandy Butler, are complemented by Jeanine Byrne’s innovative lighting- glowing pink, orange, purple, red or golden depending on mood. The birds are obviously symbolic of freedom, but also of working in unison.
As for the music itself- Lark In The Clear Air is simply stunning, and Rivers Run written by Polwart shortly after Arlo was born pulls all the strands together- a lullaby; yet also a warning that we’re all complicit in the earth’s future. In the words of another wonderful songbird, Bjork, the impetus is on “emotional landscapes”,as well as the land that endures, with and without us. A small, beautiful triumph.
Image courtesy of Celtic Connections
Part of Celtic Connections
At Tron Theatre until January 28th