Freddie is heading back to the family home to celebrate her birthday with her grandfather Howard, who now lives there alone. Tracing the old familiar paths up to the home on the hill and greeting the apple tree in the garden, Freddie is hoping to get some perspective on her undefined sense of ennui, and share the wonder of a meteor shower with Howard. But Howard has difficulties of his own, and the meteors will soon shake the ground beneath their feet.
Weaving her tale around an exquisitely designed doll’s house, its intricate details adding to a magical whole, Casey Jay Andrews combines wonder with the everyday. The people we encounter are richly drawn: not just the protagonists, but minor figures such as the young estate agent and the dog walker. As Freddie and Howard move separately around the house and the town, we learn of the experiences that have made them and of rituals created to stay close to those that have been lost. Those experiences and rituals are also metaphors for the connections that enrich our lives; the paths we make and remember by walking and retracing them, the streets of our home towns, the structures of individual trees and the networks they form together.
Andrews is a wonderful storyteller, warm and engaging, and the tale is paced perfectly as she switches between modes of address. She is complemented by well-chosen and technically-accomplished projections, and – joining her onstage – by Jack Brett’s incidental music and ethereal snatches of song.
Oh My Heart, Oh My Home is rich in the things that make life worth living. A home is created by the memories it holds, memories which revolve around sharing moments of awe and wonder with the people that elevate our lives. But Andrews doesn’t shy away from the harder facts of life and the precarious nature of home; the things we do to protect it, and the shame when we find we are unable to.
This show is beautiful, in many different ways: the doll’s house and the film projections, the storytelling and the music, and the story itself, a gorgeous meditation on love and loss. Oh My Heart, Oh My Home succeeds on every level and will live long in the memory for its tenderness and perfection. I’ve already been back to see it again, and enjoyed it every bit as much a second time.