Home Comfort with Citadel

October 11, 2020 | By | Reply More

New play based on memories of Leith gets online reading

Home Comfort, a new play by Vincent Maguire based on living memories of Isa’s Chat ‘N’ Chew Cafe in Portland Place in Leith, has a new online rehearsed reading from Citadel Arts.

The script has been created by Maguire from conversations with the tenants of the Croft An Righ sheltered housing complex at Abbeyhill, run by Viewpoint Housing Association. It is the first production from Citadel Arts Group’s community project with the residents, the appropriately named Chat’n’Chew Drama Company.

Director Liz Hare with residents of Croft An Righ. Pic: Citadel Arts Group.

The Chat’n’Chew cafe was close to both Leith harbour and the well known Henry Robb Shipbuilders. It was the crossing point for many Leith lives in the 1950s and 60s and suggested to Maguire by a memory from resident Jackie Baillie.

She told Maguire: “There was a cafe in Leith called Isa’s Chat ‘n’ Chew… Isa fed all the transport drivers, she boarded the long distance lorry drivers… My mother said, ‘Would you give Jackie a job?’

“God she should have put me on the streets! Isa behind the counter would have her whisky. She was a character and took me to the Eldo for the wrestling.”

dramatic impetus

The dramatic impetus for the script comes from a true story from resident George Lawrie, which he remembers from the 1950s, a time when Newhaven people were staunch church goers.

“The parents of this wee 12-year-old laddie, Willie Henderson, got him ready for church. He heard a scream and realised a boy was drowning in the harbour and he dived in and saved the boy’s life!”

Philip Bradfield as the naval commander in Home Comfort, dressed for the part to record his scenes on Zoom. Pic: Citadell

But his good deed didn’t immediately meet its just reward, as Lawrie continues:  “His dad said ‘Whatever happened to you?’ and gave him a good leathering. ‘Your mother and I missed the church parade looking for you’.

“Half an hour later two policemen came banging on the door. ‘We’ve to take Willie to the City Chambers to give him a gold medal for saving a boy’s life’.”

The play’s action starts just as the mother is taking the lad to Isa’s Chat’n’Chew for a consoling ice cream.

Citadel artistic director Liz Hare says that the play is a first for the company in that the cast includes professional actors alongside residents of Croft an Righ. The original plan, before Covid, was to stage a rehearsed reading with the residents and three professional actors at Drummond High.

plans scrapped

Lockdown meant that everything had to go online and the plans were scrapped with Maguire changing the focus of his script to an audio drama.

Liz Hare told Æ: “The tenants including, three over ninety year olds, informed us they wished to take all the parts so we kept only Leith actor, Adam Tomkins, to play young Bobby Henderson. With support from Viewpoint IT staff, we managed to get our 95 year old performer into a Zoom meeting where she read with aplomb.”

Home Comfort is available to listen to on Citadel’s website: www.citadelgoesviral.com

Further details of the Chat’n’Chew Drama Group on their Facebook page: @chatnchewdrama

ENDS

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