Theatre Elision presents Islander
Last night I sat in a dark room with strangers and was told a story. It was mesmerizing, hypnotic, thrilling and in a way healing.
It had been nearly 500 days (495 to be exact) since I experienced live, in person theater, and Theatre Elision's Islander was the perfect welcome back.
The show is small on paper, it has a run time of just 75 minutes and a cast of 2 on a mainly empty stage. There is no band, no fancy set pieces, just two women, their voices and a looping board. But the show directed by Lindsey Fitzgerald feels expansive and transporting, it brings you to the small Scottish island of Kinnan and surrounds you in its community, full of local drama about missing garden gnomes, and more existential drama of the future of a community.
The story is rooted around two young women; Eilidh, who has lived in Kinnan all her life and Arran who has just arrived on shore. But they both seem unmoored in different ways, finding a friend at just the right time.
Elision has a rotating cast of three actors performing in this two person show. Deidre Cochran, Emily Dussault and Christine Wade become all of the residents of Kinnan. I saw Emily Dussault and Christine Wade on Thursday night, excellently perform what can only be called a vocal and linguistic feat. They switch between accents so seamlessly and it is hard to believe that the entire vocal landscape of the show was created by singing acapella, layering melodies and rhythms using a small looping board.
The show with music and lyrics by Finn Anderson and book by Steward Melton premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019. Its central theme of community is timeless but somehow feels more relevant than ever. The lyrics “can you see me, can you hear me” from a song titled Video Call cut so much deeper than they would have 500 days ago.
At the end of the show I stood and clapped, as others around me stood and clapped, giving the show and performance a well deserved standing ovation. But we were celebrating more than just the performance, we were celebrating theater with that standing ovation. Saying as well as we could, thank you for waiting, thank you for coming back, I’m so, so glad to see you again.
Islander is playing at Elision Playhouse through the end of the month.
*Photo: Emily Dussault and Christine Wade in Islander. Photo Courtesy of Theatre Elision