Leaving Home Party, Summerhall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Farnham Maltings / Harlow Playhouse
Catherine Ireton, Ignacio Agrimbau
Running time

Its such a rare pleasure these days to stumble across something by relative chance, coming away energised and utterly enchanted. Particularly when it from such humble origins like this modest production. It's inspiring to be reminded what can be achieved in a small space with a green circle on the wall and a set of ladders. Leaving Home Party is the epitome of what the fringe should be - two people in a room with a simple idea, bags of talent and exceptional delivery.

Leaving Home Party is a one woman musical written and performed by Irish singer Catherine Ireton, the music provided on the spot by her colleague Ignacio Agrimbau, a gifted artist working his way through a variety of mainly unfamiliar exotic looking and sounding instruments. Indeed at one point, in the semi-darkness, he looked like he was playing a dead Cobra that had been hollowed out.

The narrative of the show is based on a deceptively simple premise. Ireton recounts, remembers and recalls with spoken word but mainly song the inevitable rite of passage that most young adults must take - the fleeing of the nest. Now if you’re a world weary old codger this may not seem like much to sustain an hour long show but Ireton’s beautiful piercing voice cuts through the doubts like a hot knife through butter, reminding us that this experience when it happened was a big deal, full of excitement and hope but also apprehension and fear.

And so her journey begins, from Ireland to Glasgow. And like many of us she never intended to stay or work in a call centre whilst harbouring for years one simple and creative desire, to perform, as she now does in front of us. The journey’s the same one many of us take (but some never complete) as we tick off the days, months and years passing us by while we stare out a window wondering what the hell happened.

It may sound fantastically simplistic and on one level it is, but the joy of this is being constantly reminded about what it feels like to be open eyed and excited by new things and to observe the subtle differences between one place and another. How the same words might mean something different in another city, or the physical differences and customs, how fresh but paradoxically alienating it can be. Ireton successfully conveys how by moving a few hundred miles she might as well have moved to another planet.

Assisting nicely in creating this is Agrimbau’s atmospheric musical accompaniment giving parts of the show an otherworldly feel, nicely suiting Ireton’s purpose in evoking how Scotland was like a foreign country even though she’d only travelled from Limerick.

Ireton's gift is that she quite simply puts us under a spell for an hour, inviting us into her own personal dream. And she radiates such joy in her own singing and recalling her experiences that it’s impossible not to be captivated and swept along by it. And with her voice on the soundtrack to Belle and Sebastian's film God Help the Girl (currently on cinematic release), it's clear she isn't a one trick pony. I hope to see and hear what she has to offer us in the not too distant future.

The final fringe performance of this show is at Summerhall at 1.15pm on the 23rd of August.