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She’s Leaving Home review at Toxteth, Liverpool – ‘thought-provoking immersive theatre’

She's Leaving Home in Toxteth, Liverpool. Photo: Gareth Jones She's Leaving Home in Toxteth, Liverpool. Photo: Gareth Jones

The idea of home is a potent force. It’s true to say there’s no place like it. Most of us eventually fly the nest, but how, why and when we do tends to be guided by socio-economic or, in the case of the character in this new production from 20 Stories High, emotional factors.

She’s Leaving Home is the innovative theatre company’s response to the most heartfelt of songs on the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper, part of a larger programme of work marking the album’s 50th anniversary.

She’s Not Leaving Home might be a more accurate title for this show, devised in collaboration with young people and Improbable’s Phelim McDermott, which turns the well-known lyrics on their head.

Staged within a Toxteth home, the audience, seated on sofas and stools, is made part of the action, addressed directly by Kelsey (Brodie Arthur), a chatty teenager initially preoccupied with boys and parties.

But all is not what it seems, and over three acts covering four years, the ties that bind her to home and hearth become distressingly and explosively claustrophobic, for both Kelsey and the audience.
Arthur, a graduate of 20 Stories High’s youth theatre, is a confident and natural young performer who brings utter believability to the role.

With some inventive and lyrically symbolic puppetry sequences performed by Zoe Hunter, and live music, in turn melancholic and melodic, from cellist and composer Semay Wu, this is a singular show that will keep the conversation going long after the front door has slammed shut for a final time.

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Verdict
Thought-provoking immersive theatre created by, for and in the community
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