Weaving song, poetry and story together like a fine tartan, singer, actress and broadcaster Fiona Kennedy’s The Kist is a charming celebration of Scotland’s international impact from the Highlands to the ends of the earth. It is a quietly beautifully production, meant to be shared by a dwindling fire, of Gallic song carved into the Glencoe rocks and the pluck of guitar strings rising from the Appalachian mountains.
Kennedy has assembled a tuneful collection of Celtic voices to tell the story of our nation. Kennedy herself is a consummate professional, a celebrant of Gallic song who is as vocally clear as a Highland spring. She is joined by the exceptional baritone of George Drennan and the punchy Country and Western verve of Rachel Oates, whilst James Muldoon brings a feeling of fun to the evening, teaming up with youngster Ruairidh McDonald for a spirited performances of Paulo Nutini’s “New Shoes”.
And yet, whilst The Kist should be praised as a genuine gala performance of Scottish cultural history, there are moments where this production is as subtle as a Glasgow kiss. The evening is somewhat undermined by a pervasive tone of artificial joviality that belies much of the sadness at the heart of its story. It lacks poignancy and a dreicht Scottish sense of pathos and, as a consequence, often feels like New Year’s Eve at an Evangelist revival.
Nonetheless, The Kist is an entertaining and rousing evening of song and spirit, punctuated with some fantastically funny monologues on the Scottish mentality and on the people who packed their chests full of their aspirations and set off on a journey to shape the new world.
The Kist is on at Òran Mór in Glasgow, 26 - 29 July and 2 -5 August at various times.