Hannah Lavery’s dad died in 2014. He was a Hibs fan – the product of a sprawling lineage that stretched from West Africa, to Jamaica, to Myanmar, to Edinburgh – and an absent father.
The Drift is Lavery’s lyrical attempt to comprehend the complicated inheritance he left her. It’s part family history, part personal memory play, and part pondering of what it means to be mixed-race in Scotland, then and now.
Lavery is predominantly a poet by trade, and her writing is rich with unforced imagery and empathy. “I’m a limpet stuck on ye,” she says of her relationship with her mother country. Her dad’s family, she quotes her auntie, are “migrants of migrants of migrants”.
There’s grit here, too, in the lists of everyday racist aggressions she experiences, both micro and macro, and in her casual, coarse humour. “Fuck you, my sweet, forgetful Caledonia,” she whispers, after deftly delineating Scotland’s involvement in the slavery trade that took her paternal ancestors from Africa in the first place.
She’s a subtle, supple performer, with a lovely stop-start spontaneity on stage, and she’s superbly supported in Eve Nicol’s production – an understated affair, designed by Kirsty Currie and evocatively illuminated by Benny Goodman’s dusky lighting. Projections periodically appear on the curtain. A chair, unoccupied throughout, sits starkly to one side of the stage – a potent stand-in for Lavery’s late father.
It’s quiet and calm throughout – gentle, almost – but underneath The Drift asks deafening questions. An eloquent exploration of identity in contemporary Scotland.