Welcome to the fae court and venture into the captivating depths of Land Under Wave, a mesmerising production that artfully reimagines Scottish folklore through a modern lens. In this enthralling anthology, we are introduced to the mystical world beneath the waves, where three remarkable storytellers vie for the coveted favour of the fae queen.
Their tales weave a tapestry of enchantment, romance, and even moments of stark realism. But what truly sets this production apart is its embrace of queer themes and modern pressing issues, featuring sapphic kelpies and the ravages of industry on our environment. The Young Edinburgh Storytellers have orchestrated a breathtaking fusion of tradition and innovation, crafting stories that resonate with our post-industrial society and its relationship with the natural world.
Stories, and particularly folklore, are a crucial part of finding and forging a sense of identity. There is something beautiful, then, in seeing an aspect of oneself that appears too rarely in these stories. I was particularly touched hearing the second story of the anthology, which concerns a queer love story between a woman and a kelpie with a healthy dose of gender thrown into the mix. The stories retain what makes them magical in the first place but the modern twist keeps them relevant and makes their morals much more engaging.
Our three storytellers have found themselves stranded in the fae realms in ways that hint at the show’s themes – for instance, one found himself lost in the hidden rooms beneath CC Blooms. They take their turns greeting the audience as though we were members of the fae court and begin to regale us with their stories. The mission? Find the story that the people on the surface need most. What wisdom could we glean from the salmon’s changing nature, shifting from the freshwater rivers to the saline ocean and fighting the currents to return to the river again? Do we need tales about gentleness, love and genderfluid kelpies? Or rather do we need tales about forgiveness in a harsh post-industrial world?
These are questions that are wisely left up to the audience, who get to vote at the end of the show and choose the storyteller who gets to rise to the surface. It’s a tough decision – so much so that there was a perfect tie between two stories for the performance I saw. The truth is that we need all of those stories, so it is a good thing that us surface people get to sneak into the fae court and choose.
Land Under Wave seamlessly integrates performance and production, crafting an immersive storytelling experience. The storytellers, accompanied by a drum, violin, and cello, weave musical accents into their narratives. Although occasional over-rehearsal hints surface, their authenticity resonates with the audience.
The lighting design becomes transformative, enveloping the stage in an underwater realm’s bluish-yellow glow, effectively capturing the enchantment of the fae realm. Modern technology and tradition intersect in the spoken word poetry-style narratives, creating a bridge between ancient tales and contemporary relevance. This fusion, accompanied by the evocative musical elements and captivating lighting, strikes a harmonious balance between the familiar and the innovative.
In concert, these elements conjure an enchanting world that stimulates the imagination and evokes emotions. Land Under Wave is a testament to the careful craft of creating a performance that engages the senses, fosters introspection, and leaves a lasting impact on all fortunate enough to experience it.
Land Under Wave casts a spell that transcends time, inviting us to embrace both our roots and the waves of change. A captivating journey that reflects not only our longing for stories, but also the fluidity of our own identities.
Enchanting, queer and poetic – Land Under Wave is a love letter to folktales and to those who love them. These folktales don’t hold a mirror up to you or society, they beckon you closer to the water’s edge and bid you to look into the deep and ask – is that my reflection? It looks an awful lot like a kelpie.
Recommended Drink: Dark and Stormy – Just like the tales spun in Land Under Wave, this drink captures the essence of the sea’s mystery and turmoil. Just try to wait until you’re back on the surface, or you may never leave the realms of the fae!
Catch Land Under Wave on August 7, 9, 11, 13, 15-16, 19, 21-22, 25, 27 at 17:45 at Netherbow Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.