Ireland Meets Scotland
Review by Hilary Prince
The Celtic music and dance show, Ireland Meets Scotland, written and produced by Kevin Jeffrey, played at the BIS and Orwell Corner all summer. This "Celtic Fiddle & Dance Show" takes us back in time to Ireland in 1689 when Protestant forces landed in the north to subdue the Catholic forces of James II.
The Jeffrey twins, Colin and Tristan, set the scene with poignant fiddle playing as their father, Kevin, narrates W.B. Yates' poem, "The Fiddler of Dooney." They help us imagine the wild, lonely hills of Scotland's west coast, the deserted beaches and glens in a time of turbulence and fear.
After the 1745 rebellion, when Bonnie Prince Charlie suffered defeat at the infamous battle of Culloden, Scots were robbed of their culture. In the show this is where 11 year-old Brittany Banks performs the "Sky Boat Song" in a pure, clear voice. Already an accomplished performer, at ease on stage as she goes from song to step dancing to Highland dance, this young lady also shows her athletic ability, a necessary skill in Highland dance that until the turn of the last century was the province of men only.
If the first half of the show reflected the sadness of rebellion and defeat the second half is filled with wit, fun, and humour as "the immigrants" board ship for new horizons.
Marlys Hamilton, senior dancer, gives a truly professional performance-alone and with the young dance members. Marlys also performs extremely well on bodhran.
Amanda Mark, a classically trained flute player, equally adept on guitar and other instruments, is a member of the PEI Symphony. She teaches music privately and in the PEI public school system.
Already well trained and at ease on stage, 8 year-old Gwyneth, daughter of Nan (the show's "much appreciated stage manager and moral support") and Kevin, delights the audience and in the final scenes steals the show.
Colin and Tristan, already accomplished, mature performers are in their final year of Memorial University's music programme. One suspects that other musical challenges might appeal when plans for next season roll around. Let us hope they will find time for some Island performances otherwise they would be greatly missed.