City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

(Can This Be) Home, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Erin Roche - Posted on 31 March 2019

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Show Details
Traverse Theatre
BRite Theatre Company
Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir (Performer, Writer), Tom Oakes (Music & Sound Designer, Performer)
Running time: 

On the eve of the official “Brexit Day”, the palpable tension was cut aptly with (Can This Be) Home, a multimedia spoken word and music piece at the Traverse Theatre. Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir, an Icelandic woman who has made her home in the UK, uses monologue and bits of physical theatre to unearth the realness behind what being an immigrant in today’s climate really feels like.

It’s simply about home, who gets to make it and who gets to lend it. The inflection of the piece is right there in the title within the parentheses. Depending on the meaning, words in parentheses can be considered unspoken, meek, aside, perhaps implied. Putting “Can This Be” in parentheses implies a feeling that, outwardly, immigrants seek and find a place to call home, but, inwardly, there is this unspoken understanding of having to ask certain others for the permission to keep it, having to prove their worth in order to validate keeping it.

Kolbrún and Tom Oakes take turns building the piece. Kolbrún presents a monologue and then Tom plays a tune on mandolin or flute, tunes from Morocco, County Cork or Finland, to name a few. It’s a walk through the musical influences of the world that have shaped him as a musician and human being. While he plays and shares conversational anecdotes from his travels and international friendships, she builds from a pile of sand, centre stage. Throughout the performance, the sand morphs from a wet pile to a house with a chimney to a crashed heap of sand again to a divided pile to, eventually, a home again. She wants to show you that, yes, immigrants have the strength to rebuild and persevere, but that doesn’t mean they should have to do so. The use of sand as a medium is no accident; those who fear what Brexit will do to their lives have found that their lives are that home made of sand, threatened to wash away when the tide finally rises, but they continue to build them in the face of that uncertainty and fear.

Those who didn’t win the birth lottery have been told to “go on home”, but what if home is here?
Kolbrún implores listeners to seek out empathy instead of borders, to ask different questions of those whose voices and skin tones are different from yours than, “But, where are you really from?” This is visceral, vulnerable and powerful writing; the final monologue and playing of the pun-titled tune, “The Wonder of EU” left many in the room in a standing ovation, with hearts heavy and eyes open.

BRite Theater is a multi-award-winning company known for their unorthodox stagings. For more information and for upcoming dates, please visit: