About Tam Lin

The Faerie Queen has magically turned young gentleman Tam Lin into her love-slave, and the Queen’s jealous knights are plotting to get rid of him.

Lord Dunbar wants his daughter Janet to marry Lord Aberdeen, but Janet loves Tam Lin. Janet’s lady-in-waiting Margaret loves Aberdeen and disguises herself as Janet in order to bed him.

When Margaret and Janet come down with morning sickness (or is it just the haggis?), Janet must try to find a happy ending for everybody by stealing Tam Lin away from the Faerie Queen at midnight on Halloween.

The story of Tam Lin is not your typical fairy tale: the damsel is in distress, but she doesn’t wait for the handsome knight to rescue her – she  does the rescuing. “Tam Lin” was originally a 16th century Scottish ballad. You can learn more about the historical origins of the tale of Tam Lin at this excellent web site:tamlin.org. In the 1960s, British hippies got hold of it and turned it into a folk-rock hit (listen to an excerpt of the version by Fairport Convention), and by the 1970s it was played on US rock radio stations at Halloween. But the tale of Tam Lin is too good to remain just an artifact of grooviness.

Although embellished by the playwright, this play is true to the message of the original folk song – some women will defy heaven and earth to be with the right man.

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