Ireland Meets Scotland
Review by P. Joan Smith
We buy tickets at the door from stage manger and director Nan Jeffrey, and learn from our programmes that through music, dance, verse and drama, this company of five artists plans to take us back in imagination over three hundred years. Kevin Jeffrey, the show's writer, producer and narrator invites us to follow the Island's Irish and Scottish immigrants back to their roots; we find it is to be a journey of the heart.
During the musical prelude we meet the players-Kevin plays guitar, while his son, Colin Jeffrey, a classically trained professional musician, plays fiddle; Amanda Mark a flautist in the PEI Symphony, provides the perfect complement to the traditional airs on a variety of instruments; and we meet the two young dancers who are to enthrall and bewitch us, Brittany Banks, aged twelve, an experienced competitor in Maritime Celtic Dance, and nine-year-old Gwyneth Islay, another member of the Jeffrey family.
Using the minimum of stage props and costumes, the narrator Kevin takes us to the first scene: the Sligo Fair, 1689, "during a time in Ireland's turbulent history." He recites Yeats' poem "The Fiddler of Dooney" that assures us that a merry heart is worth more than anything else. A Gaelic medley follows with the step dancers wearing traditional Celtic dress.
Scene Two shifts to Scotland in the year 1746, when the Highland clans were losing their power "and much of their cherished culture." Colin plays a violin solo, "Rosaline Castle" that captures the heart-wrenching beauty of the times. The mood continues with a gentle rendition of the "Skye Boat Song," with Brittany singing solo, and finally we sense the pride in the "Jacobite Sword Dance," performed by the girls, in Highland dress.
During the intermission, the performers offer Scottish oat cakes and Irish cream scones and pour our coffee and tea.
Following the intermission, Act 2 tells of the immigrations to Canada (we'll let you discover the details for yourselves, when you attend) .
This is a family affair that, while small in number, is large in heart and soul.