The Lasses, O
Scots narrative by the Scottish Bard’s women
This article is from 2010.
Janet Paisley re-animates a spectre from the hearts and minds of all those who were raised in Scotland or study its literary history, Robert Burns. Through the testimonies of five women close to him (midwife, storyteller, mother-in-law, smuggler and neighbour) her script conjures a well-rounded picture of the well-kent figure by defining the negative space that surrounds him.
Director David Paisley makes the most of the performance space. Hunkered down in Henderson’s low-ceilinged basement the action circles around the audience, the five actresses in period costume and in possession of percussion tools and fine voices birl round like dervishes or Macbeth’s witches. It’s clear who holds the power as history is put back into their hand (and mouths). Each of the cast is adept at bringing her facet of Burns to life, the evocations made all the more powerful by being in Scots. The use of language that is familiar in Scotland through oral traditions rather than formal schooling, the same language used by Burns 200 years ago, suspends time to allow for a portal into the past and into Scottish culture.
Henderson’s Vegetarian Restaurant and Arts Venue, 225 2131, until 29 Aug, Sat 10am, Sun 8pm, £12 (£8).