A play set in Kelso about the Border ballads has become the National Theatre of Scotland’s longest running on international tour.
The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, written by David Greig and directed by Wils Wilson, has toured four continents, nine countries, 43 different venues, and has just embarked on a new tour of North America.
In the plot, song-collector Prudencia Hart, an uptight academic, sets off one wintry morning to attend a conference in the Borders.
As the snow begins to fall, little does she know who or what awaits her there.
The setting for the raucous story is Kelso, where the folk-studies community has gathered for a symposium on ‘The Borders ballad: neither border nor ballad’. One reviewer in The Guardian said: “It should tour for eternity”.
“Inspired by the Border Ballads – and delivered in a riotous romp of rhyming couplets, devilish encounters and wild karaoke – Prudencia’s dream-like journey of self-discovery unfolds among and around the audience,” added a spokesperson for Scotland’s National Theatre.
The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart premiered in the Victorian Bar at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow in 2011, before achieving success and critical acclaim at the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
In keeping with the site-specific origins of the show, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart has been staged in a tavern, breweries, and village halls and studios with bars built in, where stories are told, retold, sung and passed on.
Audiences are invited to share a lock-in with the National Theatre of Scotland’s company of actors and musicians and to indulge in an evening of supernatural storytelling, music and theatre inspired by the Border Ballads, Robert Burns and the poems of Robert Service.
Director Wils Wilson said: “It’s truly wonderful that The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart is going to be touring internationally again in 2014.
“I can’t wait to set Pru off on her travels. The audience plays such a big part in the show that every performance is different, a challenge, a new encounter.
“It’s a privilege to be given the opportunity to take her to new places.”