(Can This Be) Home

Aug 18 2019 | By More

★★★☆☆    Uneasy construction

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30): Thurs 15 – Mon 19 Aug 2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

(Can This Be) Home, Brite Theater’s production at the Storytelling Centre, is an emotive piece, stating important truths but not always cohering.

Described as ‘half music concert, half spoken word performance’, it features Kolbrún Bjort Sigfúsdóttir, a theatre maker originally from Iceland, and Devon-born folk musician, flautist and composer Tom Oakes. Kolbrún’s contributions deal with her post-referendum experiences, while Oakes plays tunes based on his own travels.

Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir. Pic: Brite Theater

Kolbrún is a compelling stage presence, and there is deep feeling behind her words, detailing the dilemma of finding a home and then feeling that it may be taken away. Oakes, meanwhile, is a wonderfully accomplished musician whose flute playing is wistfully evocative and spans an admirable range of influences.

However, there is an odd disjunct at the heart of the performance. The publicity even admits that this is two types of performance yoked together – and there is an uneasiness about the combination that is never satisfactorily resolved. This starts with the title, simultaneously over- and under-punctuated, and seemingly designed to defeat the search function on the Fringe website, but carries on throughout.

The spoken-word sections, however deeply felt they may be, and however much you may agree with them, do not always convince. What they are saying may be necessary politically, but it does not necessarily follow that they work as poetry or as theatre.

Righteous anger

Oakes does not always seem at home with the format, even saying on one occasion that his tunes are much better than his introductions, which are on the halting side. Kolbrún’s construction of symbolic sand dwellings during the music does not necessarily knit together a performance of discrete spoken and musical sections into a coherent whole.

It is only at the end, when they are finally performing together, and Kolbrún’s previous calm is replaced by righteous anger, that the production achieves a kind of synthesis. Until then, it has been something of a patchwork affair – well thought out, and always retaining interest, but rarely catching fire.

Running time 1 hour 5 minutes (no interval)
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High St, EH1 1SR (Venue 30)
Thursday 15 – Monday 19 August 2019
Daily at 12 noon
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/can-this-be-home

Website: http://www.canthisbehome.com
Facebook: @britetheater
Instagram: @britetheater
Twitter: @BriteTheater

Tom Oakes. Pic: Brite Theater


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