Theatre review: House and Amongst The Reeds

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Theatre company Clean Break was founded in 1979 by female prisoners with an urge to tell their stories.

Star rating: ***

Venue: Assembly George Square Theatre (Venue 8)

Since then, it’s earned a reputation as a leading independent vehicle for socially-conscious works by female writers.

This year they’ve brought two short plays to the Fringe, both performed during this 90-minute compendium. The first, House, is more successful. It begins with an awkward living-room encounter between two estranged sisters, Pat and Jem. Gradually it’s revealed that Pat has recently been released from a psychiatric institution.

Jem initially tiptoes around her sister, while trying desperately to reconnect via happier memories. In time, their dynamic grows warmer. They begin to laugh, reminisce and sing. Then their mother arrives. A fiercely God-fearing Nigerian migrant, she refuses to accept Jem’s mental illness, viewing it instead as a kind of brainwashed rebellion. For Mama, Jem has brought shame to the family.

Beautifully performed by Michelle Greenidge, Rebecca Omogbehin and Shvorne Marks, it’s a sad, sensitive vignette.

The second play, Amongst the Reeds, is a needlessly abstruse drama about a homeless, pregnant Vietnamese woman (Jan Le, who’s very good). The tragedy of this unwittingly illegal immigrant is undermined by ­mannered execution.

Until 27 August. Today noon.