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House/Amongst the Reeds review at Assembly George Square, Edinburgh – ‘much potential’

Shvorne Marks in House Shvorne Marks in House. Photo: Katherine Leedale

Clean Break tells stories that often go untold. The company was set up to give voice to women’s experiences of the criminal justice system. This year they’re presenting a double bill of short plays, both of which came out of a writers’ programme set up to develop the work of playwrights from ethnic minorities.

In the first play, House by Somalia Seaton, two sisters meet in their mother’s house. One of them, Shvorne Marks’ Patricia, is trying to get her life back on track after past difficulties, but her presence is a source of upset to her mother, dredging up unpleasant memories and family secrets.

The writing is a touch heavy-handed but the play effectively illustrates that home is not always the safest of places, a theme that also informs the second play, Amongst the Reeds by Chino Odimba. Two young girls, both refugees, with no family and no legal status, are forced to live a life on the fringes.

Odimba’s elliptical, dream-like play is the more intriguing of the two pieces even if it is intentionally repetitious nature starts to feel frustrating by the end. While neither play is entirely satisfying there’s a lot of promise in both – and both writers have been commissioned elsewhere since their involvement in the Clean Break programme.

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Double-bill of new writing that contains a lot of promise