A marriage isn’t just the joining of two people, or even two families—it marks the coming together of two communities. Or so we’re told, towards the end of Duncan Kidd’s latest play for the Leith-based Active Inquiry’s Flashback Drama group and Strange Town Young Company. For the Port of Leith has seen countless migrants settle there and others leave, a process which has undoubtedly left its mark on the history of its communities.
this excellent ensemble cast keep the action tight and focused, ensuring an engrossing view of Leith that certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome.
The Waves on the Seas is the second of three “Leith Moves” productions, a social history project investigating and highlighting the significance of Leith Docks down the centuries. Unlike its predecessor, Tales From The Hanging Captain, it’s a promenade performance that jumps from one time and place to the another, though always with the clarity that comes from its principal focus—the diary of Luisa Rossi, a young Italian woman who unintentionally arrived in Leith, unexpectedly settled in the port and, through her cooking, made a home for her daughter—the home her own granddaughter now feels she must leave.
The reality of migration is underscored by the cast introducing themselves and explaining their own personal journeys to Leith; out of this particular “Baker’s Dozen”, the vast majority were not born within the EH6 postcode, coming from elsewhere in Scotland (even Edinburgh!), the UK, Europe and beyond. For a group of non-professional performers, however, this cast smoothly shift from being themselves to the first of their respective characters, as we’re led into the main space and a simple, highly effective evocation of the hustle and bustle in the Port of Leith in the early half of the 20th century.
Time and again the cast involved the audience—as newly arrived migrants with passport to be stamped, or as guests at an wedding reception—helping draw us into the entwining stories of Luisa and her neighbours; only one minor subplot, about “Donna—from the Telly”, fails to connect. Thanks to director Gavin Crichton, this excellent ensemble cast keep the action tight and focused, ensuring an engrossing view of Leith that certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome.