Writer: Hannah Lavery
Director: Eve Nicol
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
“Tick the box which most applies to you”. We don’t even consider it, do we? Many theatre-goers in Scotland will tick a box without so much as a thought. Often white. Often Scottish, or Irish or British – what though, when you apply to multiple boxes? When you become an inconvenience for the receptionist in seeking an identity which doesn’t conform to a nice, little box. Writer and performer Hannah Lavery is a proud Scottish woman, whose black father, a Jock like any other, was absent for chunks of her life. When they finally rekindled a relationship, her connection to missing identity was lost once more.
Recently the veil of history is being unearthed, quite rightly so too, by several creators. In partnership with the Nation Theatre of Scotland, The Drift explores Scotland’s history of racism, the slave trade and prevailing attitudes combating its desire to be a forethinking of the world today. For a while we may now lead in climate change, acceptance and tolerance – beneath us lays a history built on the backs of immigrants, slaves and workers, and an ugly face of racism.
It isn’t all clear-cut, however, rather than a preaching lesson to an audience, Lavery uses a spoken word which is pure artistry. Humorous, flowing and precise in commentary, The Drift conveys a story of Scotland’s history through Lavery’s history with her father. A complex relationship, a man who struck a look of Jimi Hendrix, who was both a complication but regardless, a father. Tenderly, there’s much investment of herself in a therapeutic spilling of secrets, admissions and connections.
Rife with illusions of paranoia, Lavery captures a nation reverting in on itself. Preaching acceptance, yet continuing to allow for separation, Scotland still grapples with its roots. Reliant on a mesmeric design from Kirsty Currie, video illustrations and edits are blended to illustrate points, recount history or elaborate on Lavery’s details. Ellie Thompson’s video constructs are peaceful, a backdrop to frame the production, but equally, change to reinforce the concepts.
A spoken-word piece, performance elements are key to going beyond what is simply said, and into subtext. Lavery, no doubt with direction input from Eve Nicol, is as gifted a physical performer as she is a writer. Movements help to illustrate the unpicking of her dynamics with her father, gradually building the pieces back into a mirror she turns to the nation. It makes for accessible humour, keeping The Drift from wallowing itself in misery, it’s raw in an emotional state, both positive and negative.
The further we drift from our recognition of the past, the further our secrets will spill once we unearth them. The National Theatre of Scotland, in true fashion, refuses to allow the truth to be swept under a series of false ideals, instead, challenging them head-on, allowing talented artists such as Lavery the opportunity to spread their deft ability with the spoken word to gift storytelling to the nation. The Drift is a multitude of things from a daughter to a father. It is love, it is frustrations, but in sense forgiveness, as people seek a lost connection with their own identity.
Reviewed on 11 October 2019 | Image: Contributed