Wind Resistance – Pavilion Theatre – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review by Pia Maltri
Karine Polwart and Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, UK
Wind Resistance | Pavilion | Oct 12-14
“We live in a version of the world that conspires to isolate us”, Karine Polwart says early in her show. “Wind Resistance”, a mix of storytelling and songs, can be defined as a celebration of human solidarity, as opposed to an “era of austerity, creeping isolation and individualism”.
Loosely related tales – mostly real but also mythological – on the backdrop of her Scottish homeland slowly combine to form a vivid picture of a better, more authentic humanity. There’s the story of Roberta and Will’s strong but doomed love, threaded in a voice-over throughout the the length of the show; the folk tale of “How the spruce became evergreen”; touching stories of childbirth.
One of the stories that stands out is that of the medieval Sutra Hospital, belonging to an Augustinian monastery of the XII century, where recently found plant remains give us an insight into both the connection between modern and medieval medicine, and the essentially natural origin of medications. There is also space for a football tale tinged with the surreal: that of Aberdeen beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the ‘80, with the quoted words of the the Spanish coach, referring to the Scottish team: “They have something that money can’t buy: a soul”. Aberdeen’s coach Alex Ferguson – like a Roman augur – prompts the team to lift their eyes to the sky to spot a flock of flying birds.
As much as Polwart storytelling is fascinating and compelling, her singing is what brings the show to another level. Even if folk music is not your cup of tea, her melodies are bewitching and there’s no escaping the enchantment of her impossibly sweet voice: you’ll be instantly hooked. The peak of emotion during the show is reached at the end of the first part, with a “childbirth” song: if you aren’t moved to tears by this one, well, you can safely call yourself a cynic. Her soul pours out of every note: this is a case where you cannot set apart the artist from the person, such is the authenticity of her songs.
The wind resistance of the title refers to a skein, that extraordinary V-shaped formation that geese in flight take during their migrations in order to ease each other’s long and extenuating journey. Like the migratory birds, “we are all one another’s wind resistance, and we are not going to make it on our own.” Her heartfelt cry for a return to nature, where we belong, is infectious and inspiring.
Presented by Pavilion Theatre in association with Dublin Theatre Festival.
Cast and Creative:
Written and performed by Karine Polwart
Directed by Wils Wilson
Dramaturgy: David Greig and Liam Hurley
Sound Design: Pippa Murphy Visual Design: Camilla Clarke
Lighting Design: Jeanine Byrne
Movement Direction: Janice Parker
Videography: Sandy Butler