Everything I Do is a captivatingly ambiguous live concept album, performed solo by Zoe Ní Riordáin, featuring songs from her original album. This is an eccentric and unique performance; the only thing that outshines Ní Riordáin’s sheer musical talent is her boundless imagination and creativity.
This musical performance is an honest exploration of the oscillating spectrum of emotions associated with love. Her voice is effortlessly beautiful, her lyrics sometimes clichéd, though purposefully so. She opens with You Make Me Weak, in which she perfectly balances raw and painful emotions with a refined and subtle humour – dramatically collapsing onto her knees as she sings, “you make me weak at the knees”. Each song drastically juxtaposes the next, moving from a soft, slow ballad before a jungle-like soundtrack of chaos descends through the speakers – a kind of rock anthem, filled with rage and anger. It is only in these moments that her performance falters – the strobe light and loud volume does not add intensity but distracts from the powerful emotions that she is trying to portray.
However, Ní Riordáin seamlessly regains her powerful momentum as she finally reaches for the large trampoline on stage, that’s disuse has been building tension from the show’s opening moment. The bizarreness of the performance lies predominantly in this unusual prop, which Ní Riordáin bounces on recklessly as she sings, before hoisting it into mid-air on a pulley. She continues to surprise the audience with her creative ingenuity, singing a beautifully raw ballad facing this hanging prop; a strangely poignant apostrophe to a trampoline that’s symbolism in the piece remains hugely effective in its ambiguity.
Ní Riordáin has an incredible and compelling stage presence, captivating the audience as she spends seconds on end standing silently, watching us as intently as we watch her. She forges a connection between herself and her audience, asking, “Are you here?”. She waits for a response as her words echo through the ascending semi-circle seating before smiling knowingly in response to the uncomfortable shared silence of the audience members. It is in these sly smiles and knowing glances that it becomes clear that she is incredibly self-aware of every movement that she makes on stage, despite it appearing accidental and unplanned. Everything I Do masters the balance of a flawlessly rehearsed yet authentic performance, making it impossible to decipher what is purposeful and what is not.
From her white spacesuit to her Spiderman costume and full suit ensemble, every second of this performance is eccentric and unpredictable. Ní Riordáin has created an impressive piece of theatre, that is about heartbreak, but not about heartbreak – the genius and creativity of the performance is that you cannot tell.
Everything I Do is on at Summerhall – Demonstration Room (Venue 26)
9-11, 13-18, 20-25 August @ 16.30
Get tickets here
Image: Ros Kavanagh