Hebridean Treasure Lost and Found, theSpace @ Surgeons Hall is an aptly named show/project as it is a real treasure amongst the many other shows at this year’s Fringe. This is the story through words, music and dance of how a whole culture of language, religion and its people were persecuted almost to the point of extinction and in this story the hidden, and almost forgotten influences, that India has had on Celtic spirituality and even its language.
Music and traditional songs have fascinated me for a long time, and outside of the Fringe, I spend a lot of time reviewing traditional music, Celtic music, and music from many other parts of the world. What has always interested me is the fact that often the true history of a people and their events are far from the “official versions” of history. In music and song we have “musical and oral history” that so often gives us an insight into a past common connection between peoples, and you only have to listen to traditional Celtic music and traditional Indian music, particularly when pipes of any kind are involved, to realise there is a connection somewhere in the past between the two cultures. Written evidence of these connections may have often been destroyed for many different reasons, but somewhere and somehow this written evidence often survives too for those who seek it out, and old prayers have survived the passing of the years to be heard again once more. It is with a combination of all “cultural clues” that Hebridean Treasure Lost and Found is not only discovering these ancient connections, but their increasing philosophical importance in our contemporary times as we all need to re-focus on our relationship with nature, the world around us, and the heavens above us.
To tell this history, writer John Philip Newell works with some very talented Scottish artists to bring alive once more the people and cultures of a lost Hebridean world, and composer and singer Mischa Macpherson brings to life the very spirit of a musical and cultural flame that was almost extinguished. Under the artistic direction of Shane Shambhu, dancer Kirsten Newell tells us a story in Indian influenced classical dance style that charts the history and beliefs of a people from a cross-cultural reverence for the body, the spirit and nature through to the arrival of Christianity as new and old religions fuse into a mixture of belief systems. All too soon though a new religious doctrine determined to wipe out the old pagan ways, coupled with the brutality of The Highland Clearances take their almost final toll on an ancient culture.
Throughout this performance, dancer Kirsten Newell is the focus of our story arc and gives us a wonderful performance full of different emotions and the Indian style of her dance with Tabla playing contrasting with traditional fiddles makes an interesting and powerful counter-balance to this show.
For more information on Hebridean Treasure Lost and Found, visit their website at
Hebridean Treasure Lost and Found
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
Country: United Kingdom - Scotland
Group: Hebridean Treasure
Review by Tom King