The Drift (4 stars)

The Drift

Heartbreak and rage collide in Lavery's deep dive into the roots of intergenerational trauma

In The Drift, spoken word performer Hannah Lavery's memories of her troubled, absentee father are inextricably intertwined with historical remembrance of a different sort. A past no less troubled, and one that's startlingly absent from the annals of history books, but pervasive all the same: that of Scotland's role in the atrocities of empire. On stage, Lavery directs her rage and heartbreak – both personal and national – at an empty chair, symbolic of the father who abandoned her and her mother at a young age, and whom she'd just begun to re-establish a relationship with when he died suddenly in 2014.

Lavery is a spellbinding performer, and an expert at negotiating the tension in the room. Moments of pitch-black humour burst forth in unexpected places, but more often she holds her listeners at the cliff-edge, forcing her majority-white audience to face the legacy of brutality and rape that has formed her, a mixed-race Scot. But she's also seeking a post-mortem redemption for her father, sourcing his failures and violence in this brutal inheritance, and the racism that she and her young sons now also face as 'exotic others' in their own home.

Few works of Scottish theatre confront the hypocrisies of Scottish nationalism and identity so bluntly, and so well. Lavery lyrically acknowledges the conflicting emotions of love and resentment she feels towards both her father and her homeland, but does not attempt to stamp out one feeling in favour of the other. They should – and must – find a way to co-exist, just as the nation too must allow for more than one story of Scotland to be told.

Reviewed at Traverse Theatre, Thu 10 Oct.

The Drift

Spoken word show by Hannah Lavery, exploring the experience of being 'mixed' in Scotland.

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