A rooftop in Belfast – during the Troubles.
A middle-aged couple wait for their champion racing pigeon to come home to roost and win the National Championship. The prize – a chance to rekindle the ashes of their extinct relationship and rescue their bleak wretched lives.
The pigeon is called Spartacus and it’s been carefully supplemented with a special serum extracted from the blood of the Peruvian Dragon Lizard. And he’s arrived very early. Very early indeed. In record time. So it looks like He could win the competition again. He was a regular winner when he was younger. And if He wins he knows his life will be resurrected. He will be re-born! So too will his wife. Their relationship has become bleak and cold since the death of their daughter. Their daily life is void of hope, warmth or even feeling. It is a life only of inertia. A day to day drone towards the inevitable.
But if Spartacus come home to roost this early then He is certain to win the National Championship and all their troubles will be vanquished. All He has to do is wait for Spartacus to fly down and enter the loft so that He can take the identity ring off its leg and register it in the time clock.
Except that Spartacus doesn’t seem to want to land. He’s just circling above the rooftops. circling and circling.
Do something – She says.
But what can he do? Except wait for the pigeon to stop circling and come down. We need patience.
She is all frustration. The minutes are ticking by. Spartacus is circling – And we do have the shotgun!
Spartacus, of course, is a metaphor for Peace. His coming home to roost a symbol for harmony and concord during the troubles in Northern Ireland. It is a missive against the processes of hate that have blighted life in this unhappy province. It is a metaphor too for the hope that their once happy love can be resuscitated. A hope that they can learn to stop hating each other.
When – I mean on what day did we wake up and realise that we hated each other? When the first day without Florence dawned on us? A dull rainy day without a sun to shine on the emptiness that we call existence. (LOOKS DOWN) And those people down there. The Irish. Who taught them to hate? Hate the Brits. Hate the Catholics. Hate the Protestants. Hate each other? Who teaches us to hate? To hate all the people our friends hate. Our parents hate. Who taught us to hate people who are different? Hate, hate. Hate and loathing. Hate and fear. It will kill us all yet.
Home to Roost was first performed by Eyewitness Theatre Company in 1998 at the SAK Theatre, Orlando, where it won the ORLANDO THEATRE FESTIVAL, before touring the USA and Canada, that same year, and Ireland in 1999.
In 2002 it toured Canada with Globus Theatre Company.
It’s the sort of play i-Witness loves to produce – full of wit, lyrical language and replete with social issues that asks questions about our daily lives.
HOME TO ROOST is also being re-born – and becoming increasingly relevant – if the BREXIT decision means the borders in Ireland are to be closed again the troubles are likely to flare up.