The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart
The National Theatre of Scotland brought their performance of “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart” to West Kilbride’s Village Hall. It was exciting to have performers of this standard come to the village. Unsurprisingly, the show quickly sold out.
The play was written by David Greig a Scottish playwright whose other works include Outlying Islands (2002) and The Architect which was made into a film in 2006. So it was no surprise that this works was thought provoking and entertaining.
It began with an excellent renditions of “The Twa Corbies” and music played an important part in the performance which tells the story of the straight laced academic, Prudencia Hart. She is a serious child of bookish parents and enters the world of academe. The main story revolves around a conference in Kelso at which the staid Prudencia speaks to her thesis “The Topography of Hell” while her arch academic rival Colin Sinclair offers a much more modern approach to the Border Ballads. The first part of the play is performed in rhyme.
After the conference Prudencia and Colin find themselves stuck in the border town due to a severe snowfall. Colin tries to get Prudencia to unwind, but fails. He joins in the karaoke at the pub with the locals while Prudencia sets off alone to find the B&B Colin has booked for them. She gets lost in a housing scheme and finds herself in a version of Hell that allows her time for self-discovery. The dialogue with a mysterious singer and the devil converts to prose and the second half of the play is much less tightly scripted than the first.
The Hell into which Prudencia descends surrounds her with books which she, alone with the devil, inhabits. Millenia pass. In her bid to escape from Hell Prudencia persuades the devil that he needs to experience life as a human. Ironically it is her nemisis, Colin, dressed only in his boxers who facilitates her escape. A riotous musical finale ensues.
Ballads and Karaoke numbers enhance the play. Music helps to change scene and attitude. Minimal stage settings allowed the small multi-talented cast to bring this provocative new play to the Village Hall of West Kilbride.