Catherine Ireton’s For All the Fires Not Yet Lit is a beautiful small-scale adventure, a sung-story played wonderfully to an enthralled audience at Theatre Tropicana.
With a minimal set – just her keyboard, and a small desk – the show relies almost entirely on Ireton’s storytelling. Made up of spoken word and songs, we follow Claire’s journey from anxiety-ridden mouse to accidental protestor. Switching between fun, caricatured characters with just body language and inflection, and using tiny props to great effect, it is a whole world realised within her words.
The beating heart is Claire though – a tiny hero curled up inside her meek and mild self, saddened by everybody’s expectation of her as timid, a very-much-blushing bride. Rather than unbearably tragic, Claire is realistic, sharing those thoughts – the scary ones, the ‘crazy’ ones – that can leave us feeling hopelessly vulnerable in our own lives.
If you’ve heard 2009’s God Help The Girl, you’ll have fallen in love with Catherine Ireton’s beautiful voice. Pure Irish lilt, all warm and sweet, I felt bundled up in it. The songs were sweet, sad, funny- never falling into saccharine territory. One of my favourite moments was when the audience joined in with Claire’s protest song, “For Valour”, ringing louder and louder in the theatre. Looking around, I was genuinely moved by how many people joined in, chanting until we were one voice. It was the first time that I had seen the audience at Theatre Tropicana really immersed in a performance, and it was wonderful to see.
I think spoken word has a sort of reputation as being a bit depressing, a bit heavy – and in some instances, I really can’t fault people for that expectation. If you have that impression though, Catherine Ireton’s work the antithesis of all of that. With so much heart and honesty, but with charm and lightness to match, I left elevated and empowered, and the buzz of the audience as they left told me I wasn’t the only one.
See what else is coming up at Theatre Tropicana here