One of the pleasures of the Edinburgh Fringe is discovering heart-felt theatre in small venues. All three of these performances are full of insight and compassion which makes the time spent in their company very worthwhile.
Clean Break, the theatre company that uses theatre to help women with experience of the criminal justice system, presents a bill by two emerging writers, Somalia Seaton and Chino Odimba. It opens with House, Seaton's play about a woman returning home after a spell in prison. Her sister, though uneasy in her company, wants to bring the family back together; her ferocious mother finds it hard to forgive and forget.
It's a simple but effective set up, revealing about the way that strong Christian beliefs can tear a family apart just as easily as bring it together. The performances from Michelle Greenidge, Shvorne Marks and Rebecca Omogbehin are assured. Omogbehin is also outstanding in the contrasting role of an asylum seeker living on the streets in Odimba's Amongst the Reeds.
The play charts the life of two girls, Oni (Omogbehin) and her pregnant friend Gillian (Jan Le) who are driven by abuse to seek sanctuary from the state yet denied its protection. Its theme is more moving than its execution, which tends to be simultaneously histrionic and confused, but it is undoubtedly pertinent.
So is One Hundred Homes, in which Yinka Kuitenbrouwer invites the audience into a small hut at the back of Summerhall and plies you with biscuits and tea, before sitting gravely at a desk, setting a timer, and consulting a Rolodex. In the time allotted for the show, she introduces you to the lives represented on those cards, as the people she has interviewed from talk about their ideas of home.
It's a surprisingly effective strategy. Sometime you see a photograph of the interviewee, pinned with a peg to a band on Kuitenbrouwer's forehead. Sometimes you hear their words on a tape. More often, you simply listen as she reads, without drama, their experiences – from that of the farmer who has never left his land, to the squatter who explains he is "always expecting someone" to the refugee who remarks "a decision is always a path to somewhere." Thought-provoking.
Home/Amongst the Reeds runs at Assembly Geprge Square until 27 August and then tours to The Yard Theatre in London from 1 to 17 September. One Hundred Homes runs at Summerhall until 28 August.