Elegy to travellers
pride and code of morality that came with the muchmaligned traveller culture, its magnificent heritage of songs and storytelling, and the hard cutting edge of the bitter prejudice and hostility to which travellers have been subjected by settled folk from time immemorial.
In Andrew Panton’s new Dundee production, all of this is played out with a wonderful, eloquent fluency by a nine-strong company of actor-musicians on the rock-fringed open space of Kenneth Macleod’s set. Chiara Sparkes gives a heartbreakingly fine performance as young Bessie, Beth Marshall is superb as her mother, devoted to the travelling life; and Ann Louise Ross is magnificent as the older Bessie, looking back on her glorious childhood, and taking the audience with her into that world.
Among them, this fine ensemble succeed in capturing both the joy of the world Bessie remembers, and the shadows that lengthened over it in the late 1930s, when rumours began to arrive of Hitler herding gypsies and trav- ellers, along with others, into what were to become his death camps.
As the audience gathers its own memories, and begins to join in the songs, they also capture the sweet, sorrow-