Västerbotten, Theatre Review. Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

There is a small village in Sweden in which street lights never came too and for the vast majority who resided there it was a shame that they could not see where they were walking in the dark nights that grip the Swedish hills and give rise to folklore, but for Marianne Folkedotter, it was an understanding, even as a child, that it was a chance to see the universe unfold before her.

In Västerbotten, storytelling and performance it seems is everything and through the fine musicianship of Johan Norburg and Jonas Knutsson, the hidden treasures that reside in the photographic genius of Sune Jonsson’s monochrome art and the monologue delivery of Marianne Folkedotter, Vasterbotten comes alive. It takes on colours, shapes and sounds that seem unreal, seem spectral and concealed in fine mist and has the mysterious charm of a Swedish version of Dylan Thomas’ Llareggub woven into the fabric of its society; a society that is unleashed by the story-telling ability of Ms. Folkedotter.

The past is a foreign country so they say. However what if it is your past that is being placed out for all to inhabit, if it is your memories being wandered through with clarity and accompanying saxophone sound in which ghosts quiver in every note and a guitar in which those spectres delight in the siren beauty, then you have every right surely to call that country home.

Västerbotten is unexpectedly delightful, a piece of theatrical accomplishment in which a truthful monologue can stretch its delivery net far and wide and is joined by songs from the album Norrland by Jonas Knutsson and Johan Norberg, including the tracks Bygdsiljum, Naverbiten, Bielite and the super Taget in a stroll through the wooded glades of remembrance.

If this is a glimpse of what a performance piece in which all three arts can combine in a state of enlightened fascination then let there be more of it. The overwhelming taste is one that gratifies all the senses and is highly enjoyable to be part of. Västerbotten is a triumph of Swedish culture!

Ian D. Hall