One Hundred Homes review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘deserves to tour far and wide’
One Hundred Homes examines the idea of belonging and identity – and happiness – from the viewpoint of a small nation at the heart of Europe. Created from her interviews with people in Belgium about where they come from and where they live, Yinka Kuitenbrouwer’s collection is growing as she adds subjects she meets when performing elsewhere – there’s now a Netherlands and even an Edinburgh presence in the show.
From a battered box, Kuitenbrouwer selects a handwritten index card at random, squints at her notes, then places a photo of the interviewee on a clothes peg in a band around her head. She describes each individual and their provenance before reading out their own words about themselves with an endearing matter of factness. Middle-aged Flemish farmers in West Flanders, French squatters in Ghent, English residents in care homes, migrants from Iraq, it's an unexpected take on the idea of a rainbow nation.
In between, Kuitenbrouwer, herself an import from the Netherlands, delivers monologues of names and places and offers more background to her encounters with these real-life characters, linking them all with delight like an ethnic six degrees of separation – who didn't like being interviewed, who lived in a road with the same name, who drinks the same drink.
It’s a gentle affair where tea and biscuits are served and, reflecting Flemish pragmatism, the emphasis is on the integrity rather than the splits in Western European society.
Played in a custom-built hut around a tiny table, HonderdHuizen (its original Dutch title) is a compelling concept where each show is different and reduces the distance between audience and subject to create a whole new stage in our imaginations. And while there’s the showmanship of the collector producing prized specimens from her field trips, there’s also a dignified intimacy as strangers share their lives with us through the medium of Kuitenbrouwer’s understated performance.
It’s a combination that makes this show relevant to a wider audience than you might think and deserves to tour far beyond our shores.