by Emma Lee
Tam Lin could be the perfect Fringe Show. It is interesting and accessible to audiences while using theatrical devices in clean ways that enrich story, character and our experience. Based on the ballad of Tam Lin, a traditional Celtic story of fairies, magic, evil, and – of course – love, the production promises ‘a dark musical’ and delivers in more ways than one, most notably in music. Unlike what jumps to mind with the phrase ‘musical theatre’ Tam Lin stays true to its roots and keeps it Celtic, opening with the very bold choice of a live bagpipe. The stage is quickly transformed before the audience's eyes, as the cast brings you into the world of magic with simple props, beautiful costumes, and an array of acoustic instruments that are picked up and discarded as need be. Unfortunately, despite all of this, the play falls short in a couple of key areas: acting and dialogue. While the story itself is strong and moves forward, the momentum comes to a halt every time people stand and speak. While the performers prove they have the power to captivate in their group work, something is lacking when it comes to conversation. This drags things along making it feel considerably longer than it is. This may come from the fact that Mairi Mason has her hand in every aspect of the production. Book, music and lyrics are written by her, the play is produced by her and she is, not surprisingly, the lead. While it is understandable that this is a passion piece and that one is reluctant to hand it over, with so many good ideas it is a shame to see Tam Lin buckle under the weight of one person taking on too much.