Prudencia cast photo

Gather round the tables of ye old Wise Hall in East Van, and hear the story of the National Theatre of Scotland’s The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart. This David Grieg piece directed by Wils Wilson is told throughout the entire space as characters move about the seated audience.

Prior to the show, the cast performs on bagpipe, guitars, flutes, and fiddle, while the audience settles in for an entertaining two hour (plus intermission) show. Last night’s opening was filled with PuSh Festival theatre-goers.

PuSh Executive Director Norman Armour caught The Strange Undoing a year and a half ago in Scotland. From that point on, he was determined to bring it to Vancouver audiences.

A twisted karaoke scene in a small town Scottish pub and a showdown with the devil are just a couple of the antics you’ll witness during the evening.

Paul Cole
[Paul McCole]

The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart is told in rhyming couplets. The five-member cast play wonderfully together, at times breaking into song, as well as creating their own sound effects.

At one point during the play, the lights are out and one of the cast walks around the room, lighting the candles at each of the tables. In fact, there’s so much going on here that the story line is often split off for the enjoyment of both cast and audience.

Melody Grove
[Melody Grove]

When Prudentia (Melody Grove) decides to head off in another direction on a snowy, mid-winter night, things take an interesting turn.

“Welcome to Hell. Make yourself at home.”

David McKay, Alasdair Macrae, Paul McCole, Annie Grace, Melody Grove
[L to R: David McKay, Alasdair Macrae, Paul McCole, Annie Grace, Melody Grove]

This is just one of the funny moments during the play when Prudentia assumes she’s booked into a local B&B for the night. Or was she? What transpires in the second half is a very complex half-dream that eventually returns Prudentia back to 2010, the year that the story began.

Alasdair Macrae, David McKay, Melody Grove
[L to R: Alasdair Macrae, David McKay, Melody Grove]

When the play finally concludes, the audience is singing along. While I enjoyed the play, a few scenes could have been shortened. Bringing a team of talent this big is a rare treat, and one that should be experienced.

The strings of white bulbs draped across the ceiling add a merry atmosphere to the play. Costumes are draped on chairs, props brought out from under tables.

Wise Hall is the perfect venue to host a lively production such as this. The story and venue both lend themselves to tables around an intimate room, and with WISE standing for Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and English, all the better!

The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart continues through February 2 at Wise Hall, 1882 Adanac Street in Vancouver, as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

All photos by Drew Farrell.

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