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Reviews / Tell Wiz: ‘a triumph of unplugged clarity’

Arthur Watt (left) and George Webster during the Tell Wiz performance in the Garrison - Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

AFTER months of anticipation, dialect group Shetland ForWirds’s revival of the popular 1950s musical Tell Wiz finally hit the stage on Thursday night.

EXCITED anticipation filled the air as the audience filled the Garrison Theatre on Thursday night for the premiere of Tell Wiz. They were not to be disappointed.

The promising prelude from the very elegantly attired musicians led to an exuberant Weemins’ Chorus on Commercial Street in 1958, the year of the original Tell Wiz.

First night tensions evaporated as the large cast swiftly merged with their audience to share a slice of bygone Lerwick.

Greenland whaling, herring fishing days, the lives of those left behind, the businessmen and class division: all were vividly portrayed with humour and feeling.

The audience burst into song as Jessie Mary (Alex Couper) gave her rendition of Bannocks, Bursteen an Brönies, acting hilariously tae da weel-kent wirds.

The very engaged audience, having got a taste o da brönies, sang a lok mair, an laekly sang aa da wye hame!

Many of the audience and the cast have close links to the 1958 show, adding a poignant strand to the bond between them.

The songs were all served up with immense style and confidence. From left to right: Graeme Amedro, Julie Moncrieff, David Grieve, Anne Eunson, Anne Amedro, Peter Goodlad, Helen Mouat, Eileen Brooke-Freeman, Trevor Jamieson - Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

The songs were all served up with immense style and confidence; each tuneful word was clear as a bell, emotions were subtly expressed, the tone was superb with exquisitely blended harmonies.

Boy Thingamy Whalsa, sung by the energetic Chris Thomson as Peerie Gibbie, brought a tear to the eye and spoke to us of what folk went through.

The ensemble of musicians excelled beyond our high expectations, supporting sensitively and never dominating the songs. How refreshing to be amp-free!

Supreme quality stage and musical direction delivered a fluid and balanced performance throughout.

The script gave us lightsome comedy, but we could also feel the sadder, darker struggle of life in times past.

The wide spectrum of costumes was easy on the eye, amusing at times and, on the whole, authentic, as were backdrops and props.

It was a joy to hear the dialect spoken so naturally. All credit to the cast and Shetland ForWirds for showcasing a triumph of unplugged clarity, amid the marvellous acoustics of the Garrison.

The programme is a miniature treasury, full of history and a useful glossary, with barely an advert: well worth keeping.

Audience exit comments overhead include: ‘mair a dis needed’, ‘pure professionalism’, ‘tremendous’, ‘chust blawn awa’, ‘we hae tickets fur da morn as weel’, ‘wonderful’.

And yes, it WIZ a pure triumph!


Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021