A show by Zoe Ní Riordáin about love and losing people with some shattering points among electric guitar chords. Maggie Kelly reviews Everything I Do:

There is one heart-crunchingly gorgeous moment in Everything I Do. Performer Zoe Ní Riordáin sets her guitar down and approaches the audience, softly asking individuals in the front row whether they believe in love at first sight.

Whether you can be passionate about things you don’t care about. Whether you have to do something about things that you care about.

Everything I Do Summerhall
Zoe Ní Riordáin (image courtesy of Jane Barlow)

Each audience member answers seemingly truthfully – Ní Riordáin has that kind of effect on people. So begins a quiet conversation about caring for people, caring about people, loving people with a sincere honesty that feels hard to come by at the Fringe. Each of these small, unscripted exchanges is so intimate. They touch on something the rest of Everything I Do skirts around.

Everything I Do Summerhall
Zoe Ní Riordáin (image courtesy of Ros Kavanagh)

Because it’s very hard to say anything new about breakups. There’s very little that hasn’t been said about losing someone you care for, having to say goodbye to someone you really give a shit about. While Ní Riordáin has some great musical moments, the album element of Everything I Do tends to meld together into a giant continuous swathe with very little punctuation.

Everything I Do Summerhall
Zoe Ní Riordáin (image courtesy of Ros Kavanagh)

The points that land are not the ones focusing on the man Ní Riordáin is desperately in love with, the man she’s writing songs in her shed about. Those that shine through are actually about her, dressed in a Spiderman costume under a beige suit, jumping on a chalky trampoline. She explains: she used to do this between three and five – her brother had this weird beige suit from his christening and it was handed down to her and she always used to wear it with Spiderman pajamas underneath so that, now, around twenty-or-so years later, it seemed like a good time to wear the same outfit again again.

And that minute story sticks.

It sticks because there’s something comforting about going back to childhood, finding things that are happy and safe, even if that means wearing three layers in an echoey Edinburgh lecture theatre while bouncing on a trampoline. There’s something comforting about charting through life and remembering a past grounding, a past independence before the inclusion of The Other Person came along. Remembering that the self will still remain even after they go.

Everything I Do Summerhall
Zoe Ní Riordáin (image courtesy of Jane Barlow)

A boy Ní Riordáin knew when she was younger calls her. He’s now married with a wife and kids. They chat for a bit, about general stuff, but then he stops. And he says he just wanted to hear her voice.

And this is the Everything I Do that hits home. The one about growing up, about childhood crushes, about complications, about doing the right thing and the wrong thing and not knowing which is which. Sometimes it’s about having to hold on – to a hand, to a voice from a past or a childhood when things were just easier.

It’s just too hard to connect this narrative with the non-descript songs written in a shed.

★★★☆☆

Everything I Do is now playing at Summerhall until 25 August 2019. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit the festival website.