Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
True stories can be painful but redemptive affairs. This is borne out by Hannah Lavery’s poetic solo, performed by herself and scaled up for its current tour from its early incarnations as a scratch show to a full production care of the National Theatre of Scotland. Sitting quietly on Kirstie Currie’s living room set with video footage of waves crashing behind her, over the next hour Lavery lays bare her fractured relationship with her dad, a black man living in a white world. More specifically, this handsome runaway grew up in a white post- Second World War Edinburgh, where being born there isn’t considered enough to explain where he comes from.
Out of this comes an intimate meditation on Lavery’s own roots, which peels back the open sore of slavery and colonialism, evils far closer to home than some would care to admit. This uneasy history is never delivered in a heavy handed fashion, with a bigger past framed by the all too real legacy of a father who doesn’t know where he belongs and a son being racially abused in the playground. Lavery stands between the two, protecting both even as she deals with a lingering hurt.
While never soft-soaping things in any way in Eve Nicol’s nuanced production, Lavery’s righteous anger takes a gentler and more vulnerable approach. Despite this, a part of her will forever be the furious sixteen-year-old in Doc Marten boots having to deal with an absent dad along with everything else that helped shape her at such a volatile age.
Despite this, a conciliatory tone pulses Lavery’s writing in a way that falls somewhere between eulogy, purging and laying her father to rest. Her artistic act not only keeps his restless spirit alive, but immortalises her memory of him in this fragile, heartfelt and painfully honest tribute delivered with a raging calm.
The Herald, October 3rd 2019