Scot:lands review: Wander:Land | High:Land

IN MANY ways, Wander:land summed up the entire Scot:lands experience: a truly wonderful idea, well-performed by talented artists, which introduced people to something new but neglected to fully consider the audience experience.
Wander:lands beauty was too often hidden behind pillars. Picture: ContributedWander:lands beauty was too often hidden behind pillars. Picture: Contributed
Wander:lands beauty was too often hidden behind pillars. Picture: Contributed

Wander:Land - St Giles’ Cathedral

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High:Land - Assembly Checkpoint

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Just as it was impossible to visit (and fully enjoy) all nine parts of the Scot:lands programme, it was equally impossible to appreciate Wander:land for all it was worth.

So many beautiful components came together during the performance – the evocative organ playing, deeply moving choral singing, spirited dancing generated by exuberant choreography, thousands of pieces of paper masquerading as snow. It was all there – if only you could see it.

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St Giles’ Cathedral is a venue already bursting with theatricality, so it doesn’t take much to bring it to life. But it has a roof that needs propping up, and nothing masks a dance duet like a thick stone column.

Dundee-based dance company, Smallpetitklein intended Wander:land to live up to its name, requiring people to wander around the space to take it all in. But when you group a cluster of chairs together, people will inevitably sit on them – despite the performance starting (unbeknownst to them) at the other end of the cathedral. A little audience guidance would have gone a long way.

But if you could secure a vantage point, the work had a sublime quality, demonstrating just how powerful movement, music and song can be when it all comes together.

Meanwhile, one of Scotland’s best-loved music venues headed down from Ullapool to show Edinburgh how it’s done with High:land.

The friendliness and boundless musical talent the Ceilidh Place is renowned for was in full effect.

Free beer and salmon-topped oatcakes were handed out, while musical offerings from both the old guard (such as Dick Gaughan, in fine political form) and young, upcoming talent (including the superb Joseph Peach Trio) helped create a welcoming atmosphere of warm conviviality.