Margi Brown Ash is as charming as they come, and her latest production Home (Co-Devised & Directed by Leah Mercer) is an absolute delight. Home is nestled in an intimate space created within La Boite’s Roundhouse theatre and as the small statured Margi humbly wanders in, she radiates enough warmth to encompass everyone.
As she starts with her favourite story, the myth of Osiris, you instantly become that wide-eyed child sitting in the kitchen of your favourite Aunt; her voice swings with power and lulls in sorrow as the fates of the characters are told. The stories continue to stream, in and out of Margi’s past, with seamless time-travel through her decades as she travails the road to America, to motherhood, to acting, to hash laced brownies on the set of ‘Number 96’. It’s impossible to avoid the outward expression of emotion here and we laughed out-loud and giggled at her antics, for she is the consummate entertainer. Then as Margi struggles to let go of the ashes of her mother I became weepy with remembrance. Every audience member connects for different reasons at different times and this keeps the energy of the room at a constant high.
Scenes from her own home are littered with the debris of other broken homes; refugees, war veterans and displaced survivors also present their tales in small speeches and soliloquy performed by Brown Ash’s own talented son, Travis Ash (Co-deviser & Composer), who also accompanies her performance with evocative piano melodies. These are the tales from which Home was born;
“…the contrast of being surrounded by everything you need, while in other places in the world homes were being destroyed in seconds…”
The stage is a simple but clever affair; clear Perspex creates ghosts of windows and a door suspended, almost levitating as memories do. The only solid furnishings are wooden chairs of varying sizes that Margi manipulates into props and her ‘grandmother’ chair on wheels on which she joyfully scoots around. Bev Jensen (Visual artist, Designer) also provides powerful images that project onto the soft, white, nest-like curtains that contain us.
Margi’s energy is unbelievable. She skips and scuttles and sprints around the stage for an hour and half without interval and it’s pleasing to say that no interval is needed. When the play ended and the invited cast members had taken their bow, there was a pause — we didn’t want to leave.
Margi Brown Ash and Leah Mercer are certainly a dynamic pair and while Home may not be for everyone (as if anything could be!) it certainly should appeal to a wide audience. Showing at La Boite’s Roundhouse until July 28 as part of La Boite Indie, time is running out so take your loved ones to visit Margi Brown Ash at Home.