Mixing history and the present to great effect, Fragments of Home revisits earlier work by Annie George extremely successfully, writes Hugh Simpson.
Like the other Shedinburgh presentations, this was a one-off, but if the others are done with this much care and power they really should be supported.
Using material from the recent Home Is Not The Place (which itself drew on earlier work The Bridge), this shortened performance, based in a ‘shed’ at the Traverse, was a tightly constructed piece that worked superbly in its own right.
Any concerns that a cut-down version would lack coherence soon evaporate. Indeed, this may be the best version of the piece that has yet been done, with real heft both emotionally and intellectually.
The springboard for the tale is George’s Kerala-born grandfather P. M. John, a poet in the Malayalam language when that tongue was considered of little value by the British colonial rulers, characterised here as ‘visitors’.
John himself died at only 40 shortly before independence. His story is interwoven with George’s own experiences as a ‘1.5-generation immigrant’, and that of other members of her family – not least her parents, encountering a society in the UK blithely ignorant of its own history and the consequences of that history for others.
Perhaps there is less visual impact than in other versions of the story, but Niroshini Thambar’s music retains its power.
What is noticeable is that – unlike some other recent online presentations, which necessarily appear just as filmed plays and understandably lose a great deal on screen – this works both as a theatrical performance and as a film, with George’s performance striking a delicate balance.
This story, meanwhile, is equally poised, mixing the personal and the political thoroughly effectively. This is a story that needs to be told, and has considerable resonance.
Running time: 45 minutes
Sunday 16 August only
Shedinburgh continues until Saturday 5 September.
Shed-ule at: https://shedinburgh.com