The stage is bare, the theatre darkens, and a man in a shirt and jeans emerges from the audience and walks up onto the stage.
Home | King’s Theatre | ****
He places a couple of floor-level lights on stage; then he begins to wrestle with the wooden frame of a wall, and to staple plastic sheeting to it. There’s a brief detour in which a bed appears, along with three other characters, a wife, a young son, an elderly mother, perhaps. Then there’s a frenzy of activity as, within ten minutes, a stage crew appear and build and furnish the stage version of an entire two-storey house.
This is the opening sequence of Geoff Sobelle’s Home, the final theatre show of this year’s International Festival; and although audiences are most likely to treasure the memory of the riotous party towards the end of the show – when a couple of dozen audience members end up on stage, and fairy lights are strung all round the auditorium – it’s perhaps this low-key opening, with its intense concentration on the efforts human beings devote to creating homes and settling-places that always finally prove transient, that is most characteristic of Sobelle’s work as an internationally acclaimed theatre maker.
In Home, he and his team seem to scale his work up to the big King’s auditorium without effort, creating an event that ranges from beautiful, meditative reflections on domestic peace, through the busy routines of everyday domestic life, to that final party. The performances of the five other actors who join Sobelle on stage are impeccable, and there are dreamy, thoughtful songs from the show’s bard, Elvis Perkins. And when, at last, the winds of time begin to billow through the now-deserted rooms, Home leaves us with a rich and beautiful sense of the impermanence and fragility of all things human – not the only show in Edinburgh this year to reflect on that theme, but one of the most generous, and loving.
Until tomorrow. Today 3pm and 8pm.