(Can This Be) Home @ Scottish Storytelling Centre

Spoken word artist Kolbrún Sigfúsdóttir and flautist Tom Oakes' collaboration is a glorious and unabashedly pro-EU meditation on immigration, culture shock and Brexit

Review by Dominic Corr | 26 Aug 2019
  • (Can This Be) Home?

(Can This Be) Home pairs spoken word by Kolbrún Sigfúsdóttir and readings of origin pieces on immigration, culture shock and the growing resentments over Brexit, with musicial arrangements by flautist Tom Oakes influenced by time spent abroad meeting friends and forging relationships.

Moving venue from the Traverse Theatre earlier in the year to the Storytelling Centre, Sigfúsdóttir fluidly ties in commentary on more recent events with her original pieces. This version sees a switch in Prime Ministers, the looming of Brexit (again), and the steadily increasing influx of hate. These additions are laced into the original with an evolved, tightening sense of anger. 

Presenting the audience with a nation divided, Sigfúsdóttir constructs a small house out of sand as Oakes regales us with tales of his life experiences from teachers, musicians and friends across Europe. As the house partitions into two swelling masses of sand, the parallel is clear.

Unabashedly pro-EU, Oake’s flute solos serve as a reminder of the choking effect of extreme border control on culture and people, echoing Sigfúsdóttir's words. The influences of Nordic tunes in Oake’s performances are glorious. It all ends with a fitting tribute which marries the collective wealth of all he has been gifted to learn through open borders, educational partnerships and an appreciation of other cultures.

While encouraging all sides of opinion, (Can This Be) Home is an openly pro-remain piece, as likely are the audience. Its political message isn’t as direct as one would have hoped it would have evolved into, especially given the time the pair have had to hone the production. It still feels like there’s more to say, more to communicate and more fire to ignite.  

(Can This Be) Home, Scottish Storytelling Centre, run ended