Homecoming @ Leith Festival

Home audience for a parable about change and nostalgia

Article by Katie Smyth | 16 Jun 2008

The sanctuary of South Leith Parish Church provided an apt background to this modern day retelling of the Prodigal Son. Golden boy Harry fled the neighbourhood of his childhood, swapping sharing a ham bone with the next-door neighbours for Romanian wedding feasts. Twenty years on and with the aid of the occasional postcard his mother Meg has created the fantasy of Harry's jet-set life.

She and her younger son Sam are sitting in a Lindsay Street flat at Hogmanay, waiting for the bells and wondering if any of the distant cousins will turn up for sherry and stovies, when the first first-footer knock of the night heralds the return of a dishevelled and penitent Harry. He is flat broke and seeking reconciliation: Meg must come to terms with her disappointment while Sam can finally step out of his big brother's shadow.

A staged reading, Homecoming supplied nostalgia for an audience replete with OAPs whose murmured agreements with Harry's reminiscences of the old Leith were audible over the crackles of a troubled sound system. Yet while Harry's soliloquies on the tram work disruption and marvelling at the ever-increasing new flats struck a chord, they did little to compensate for fluffed lines and a feeling that the play could have realised its potential if the actors had set aside their scripts and actually performed the piece.

Furnished with recollections of a disappeared way of life, debate on the present multiculturalism in Leith and poignant reflections on lost possibilties, Homecoming tackles the interesting problem of re-finding one's place in a community you barely recognise with limited success.