Thursday, September 28

The Kids With Nae Hame – C Arts, C Venues

This new play gives a voice to children who have been taken into ‘care’. They are ‘The Kids With Nae Hame’.

The script, written by Geraldine Smith, is based on the personal experiences of the care system by some of the cast members.

The company formed to present this play is called ‘It’s About Time (Scotland)’. That title encapsulates the campaigning spirit of this play.

Children in care have, for a variety of reasons, been taken away from their parental homes.  But sadly, in the care system they’re not necessarily getting the care and attention they need. In this play we see acts of emotional ill-treatment, even cruelty, by care workers. There seems to be a continuous battle being waged between the staff and the teenagers.

The ongoing Scottish Child Abuse enquiry has heard evidence of cases of abuse – not just emotional, but physical and sexual – of children in care. In 2018 Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney offered “an unreserved and heartfelt apology to everyone who suffered abuse in care in Scotland. We are deeply ashamed of what happened”.

This play is largely set in the 1980s in Glasgow. “If you hate Maggie Thatcher, clap your hands” chant the teenagers with relish at one point.

Things have got a lot better since the 1980s, though there is always room for improvement. Most carers are conscientious people doing a difficult job. National Care standards have been introduced in Scotland which stress the rights of children in care.

Despite its serious subject matter, this is not a sad play. There are laughs and amusing moments. An anecdote about a ‘wee wally dug’ missing from Haggs Castle comes to mind. There are also songs from the musical ‘Fame’ put across with gusto. The singing is impressive.

The seven actors play 21 parts between them. Three actors – Amy Davis, Iona Reid and Katie Ford – play teenagers in care. They show their vulnerability, and sometimes their aggression, but also capture the resilience of the youngsters and their sense of camaraderie. And Amy, Iona and Katie successfully take on additional adult roles.

Three actors – Callum Morrans, Carter Nisbet and Wendy McEwan – take on twelve roles between them. These include social workers, staff in children’s homes, a tv presenter, an estate agent and politicians. All three display admirable versatility in convincingly playing four parts each.

However perhaps the most versatile of all is the writer, Geraldine Smith, who also directs and plays one of the care workers. Geraldine’s written a powerful script and overseen a production which achieves a real ensemble feeling.

Ensuring the smooth running of the show’s technical aspects is Eva Cruces.

The show does have its flaws. Some actors talk so quickly that it can be difficult to make out some of what they’re saying. A steadier pace will ensure that the story – with its many different characters and scene changes – is easier to follow. Most of the actors pitched the volume at the correct level for this studio theatre. But one or two sometimes spoke so quietly that even in this small space, it was a struggle to hear some of their words.

Like many shows on the fringe there is no cast list. (Thanks to the company for supplying me with one later.) A simple photocopied sheet with names of the cast and their multiple roles plus a list of the different scenes would have been useful for audience members.

I understand there are plans to develop this work and possibly take the production elsewhere. That is good news. This show will get better and better. All the essentials are there.

Toward the end of the play a big banner proclaims, “We’re All Jock Tamson’s Bairns”. We’re all of equal worth whatever our background, occupation or wealth. This play speaks up for children who have often been looked down on. But they have been taken into care through no fault of their own. And they are as good as anyone.

Reviewer: Tom Scott

Reviewed: 26th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.