This year marks the centenary of the birth of Woodrow Wilson Guthrie.
This Land: The Story of Woody Guthrie
Star rating: * * * *
The Dust Bowl Troubador was a wandering bard, a collector, writer and performer of folk songs and a tireless campaigner for social justice, who famously daubed the words “this machine kills fascists” onto his guitar.
Arguably the nearest American equivalent to Robert Burns, it feels right that his story should be told here in Edinburgh this year, and Leeds-based Interplay have done it superbly.
With a selection of tremendously performed songs from Guthrie’s enormous back-catalogue, and dialogue drawn from Guthrie’s own words, his troubled personal life is given equal prominence alongside the music.
Domestic fire and hereditary illness are recurring, tragic themes in among the passion and the joy of the music.
Several members of the cast take a turn playing the man himself, passing the torch and the ideal on through time, and eventually on to a young Bob Dylan, who was richly inspired by Guthrie.
Almost too much is packed into an hour and a half, political context is lost, and several stories and themes are left hanging on the vine a little.
Overall, though, this a story worth telling, and well told. The ovation at the end was deserved.
• until August 18