(Can this be) Home @ Traverse Theatre

Writen and Directed by Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir

Writing this on the eve of the original Brexit leave date – the realisation that the past three years have resulted in drastic changes amid no change whatsoever dawns even more. That after this turmoil, nothing has been accomplished. All that has happened is the separation of a nation (not in the desired way for some) with the dissolution of ‘us’ into ‘them’. A note of caution – (Can this be) Home makes no bones about being a pro-EU piece, though it encourages those with differing opinions to attend.

Separated into segments, though complimenting one another remarkably well from a narrative perspective, (Can this be) Home is half spoken-word and another half instrumental gig. Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir’s spoken word segments examine the Brexit process from the eyes of immigrants and the prevailing decent into ‘othering’ of our communities. Those people who have worked, committed and lived in Britain for decades are suddenly others, foreigners in their home. Her words are poetic, well-versed but without a doubt cutting. Theatre is an area where the silent voices can be heard – and Kolbrún takes her chance, unapologetically pro-remain (quite rightly).

As Tom Oakes regales us with tales of his experiences with musicians, teachers and friends from across the EU and further, Sigfúsdóttir begins to sculpt. At first, it seems to distract from the score. A futile effort in childlike play, before we realise, she’s furthering her own story. The coarse sand granules gradually morph into what’s at stake – a home. A simple, but a safe home which erupts into a heaped mess, convulsing before becoming divided. Two homes, and yet Sigfúsdóttir belongs to neither. A voice, whose rights have potentially been altered is not afforded a say in the matter.

Oakes composition serves as a reminder of the effects of communication across nations, the importance of the ability to reach out and discuss with people. Chiefly a flautist, Oakes offers us some of the tunes he has picked up along the way from Ireland, Finland and encounters in Morocco. His gentile anecdotes provide levity, though also hint at the nerves beneath. His performance is otherwise engaging. The melodies are recognisable in their origin, particularly Scandinavian roots. He stitches them together with his own inspirations, forming a cultural union of different styles (subtle right?).

At what first seems a piece of commentary sharply turns into a battle cry, the stage cast in a streak of rebellious red. No one has more right to do so than Sigfúsdóttir utilising her words to inspire and encourage. Metaphorically, her spoken words begin symbolic, though her symbolism is occasionally lost in passion, with clarity suffering. The imagery painted for us is later slapped across the face. That Brexit is past the point of awkward dinner conversation.

A time for impartiality is past. The make-up of this production highlights the idiocies and dangers presented towards Scottish, let alone European theatre. Contributions for (Can this be) Home are from all creeds of the union including French, Russian, Swedish, Egyptian-Italian and of course a fair few Scotties.

Brite Theater couldn’t have known what the previous three years would have been like. Nor the fearful anxieties they now possess. It reminds us to look beyond our own perspective but a Scottish-British-European and most commonly Human one. (Can this be) Home is guttural, rough at edges but what is expected from a show that’s had to constantly shift more times than Parliament has had votes on the matter? Brite Theater is a welcome piece of theatre in Scotland – just as welcome as its creators.

Review originally published for Reviews Hub:


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