Written by Maria MacDonell
Composed by Georgina MacDonell Finlayson
Directed by Alan Finlayson & Maria MacDonell
For some, legacy is everything. For others, privacy dictates their stories remain a personal choice. So what do you do when you uncover a trove of secrets? Of correspondence between distant souls, who speak not only speak of their profound adoration but their friendship, their daily lives and hopes and experiences. And harsher still, how does one fill in the gaps when one-half of the recipient’s letters are missing.
Yukon; the gold rush. Many an enraptured fool sought their fortune in the rivers of Canada, panning for the flakes of shining, shimmering gold. But it was not to be for most, with heavy industry tycoons swooping the nuggets, lone Scot Alex found himself staying on the other side of the pond, far away from Minnie Lindsay and her ahem pouch. Maria MacDonell weaves her storytelling capabilities effortlessly, switching too and fro between secret keeper and revealing, unravelling the letters hidden behind a display cabinet. Letters which disclose the relationship, the connection and lives Miss Lindsay shared with a man hundreds of miles away: Alexander.
Writing to one another frequently, the undeniable connection the pair shared was tangible, carried touchingly by writer and performer Maira MacDonell and Alan Finlayson. Inquisitive, tender, and with just the right dash of nosey, our Curator (MacDonell) stirs the dusted letters and infuses them with a sense of not only Minnie Lindsay but invests much of themselves into the story.
Aided tremendously by the remarkable talents of musician Georgia MacDonell Finlayson, the folk composition of the soundtrack is as equally marvellous as the writing, the two entwining one another, the use of varied string and percussion matching the cadence of Maria’s spoken word, lifting the emotional integrity of each sentence.
Clattering and cobbled, the curious nature of Miss Lindsay’s Secrets plays directly into the charm and nostalgia fuelled emotions. This composite of memoir and relics touches an accord in the digital era, where anecdotes and quips are limited to 150 characters, lost in a marsh of opinions, gripes and sponsorships within moments. MacDonell’s soft approach is warming, encouraging and renders the audience into a dream state of reminiscence.
Though much of the storytelling mechanics come from the composition and lyrical manner of the letter-writing, Molly MacDonell Finlayson’s costume and prop work serve as a reinforcement of the understated nature of the show. The muted tones maintaining a sepia-tint, of nostalgia, of history, where colour emerges in bright sparks, instrumental usually, it grasps the audience’s attention.
Perhaps the keenest sign of respect and appreciation comes from the audience’s chattering feet and hungry eyes for more of Miss Lindsay’s story. But with all good secrets, a morsel must be left to maintain interest, a savoury and tantalising hook to peek those willing to seek them out.
Miss Lindsay’s Secret runs until August 30th on select dates at The Scottish Storytelling Centre. Tickets are available here
Photo credit – Andy Catlin