“Home is Not the Place”, Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Margaret Rose at Summerhall
19 August 2022

Home is Not the Place sees writer and performer Annie George telling her own story while making frequent reference to Empire and injustices that were committed in colonial India.

George was born in Kerala in 1965, migrated to London to join her parents at the age of four and moved to Scotland where she now lives.

At Summerhall, a tiny stage is cluttered with books, a small box, a suitcase, an oil lamp, objects that will be useful for telling the story, while projections of dates and names of George’s family members help us situate events.

As her tale unfolds, the performer’s mood swings between happiness and affection when remembering her loved ones, anger and frustration at the thought that her parents left her alone in Kerala for two years before sending for her.

When the story moves to India and George’s recent visit, her grandfather, PM John, who lived in the first part of the twentieth century before Independence, becomes the focus. George sets up imaginary dialogues between herself and her grandfather and also her mother. She impersonates the latter’s accented voice to great effect and it becomes clear that the bond between mother and daughter is huge but there is also a huge divide.

George confides in her mother that she might one day go back to live in their village as a single woman, but the idea meets with a fierce warning that this would be totally unacceptable.

There are swift, unexpected flashbacks. George’s voice grows fearful as she suddenly finds herself in her grandfather’s burning house and enveloped by flames. With great sadness she reveals that most of his writing was destroyed in the fire.

In the final moments we see pictures of the family tree, starting from George’s grandparents to her own children and grandchildren. She concludes that home is not a place but the people you love and live with. Well-known director Gerry Mulgrew directs and Niroshini Thambar created the sound and lighting design.