Friday, July 19

Home, Sweet Home – Riverside Studios

Amalia Kontesi’s contribution to Riverside Studio’s “Bitesize Festival” of short plays explores the concept of home. Ellie lives in London, working in a high-paid marketing job which she hates, having left behind her parents and brother in Athens. Is “home” in London, Athens, or the summer cottage by the sea that the family scraped together the means to buy, and which Ellie and her brother adored?  Ellie has returned to the cottage in order to sort it out prior to putting it on the market. As she reminisces about the wonderful summer times by the sea, the fun, her first kiss, first love and subsequent heartbreak, sibling rivalry and eventual loss, can she bring herself to sell up or does she need to hold onto this house that holds so many memories? Is the cottage her home now?  Behind this lies the bigger story of the climate change that led to destructive wildfires, and which caused the tragedy that has led to Ellie’s return to Greece.

Isadora Provatos plays Ellie with nuance and warmth. She’s a talented performer who commands the stage in what is effectively a one-woman show.  Ellie’s parents and brother appear intermittently on an old black-and-white TV to interrupt Ellie’s reminiscences. A large screen at the rear of the stage shows the car ride to the oft-referred to pot-holed and pine tree-lined road to the cottage and later the vicious and deadly wildfires that swept Greece and resulted in Ellie’s grief. Sofas and a shuttered window provide just enough to depict the shabby and dusty cottage, with a desk for Ellie’s London office. 

The main flaw with this production is the sound quality and volume. The music and sound effects blast far too loudly in the small theatre and the voices of the recorded characters are at a volume that at times overwhelms Ellie’s musings. It’s an interesting and innovative way of including the characters that are in Ellie’s thoughts, but the recorded characters don’t entirely work, the pacing of these interventions somewhat wobbly and awkward.

Overall, Home, Sweet Home is a touching piece that resonates with the current imperative of dealing with climate change. By focusing on one woman’s experience, the issue is brought starkly home.

Home, Sweet Home is running at the Riverside Studios until 14th July.  Tickets are on sale from:

Reviewer: Carole Gordon

Reviewed: 9th July 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.