We enter stage and Jonathan Ashby-Rock delicately tends to his flowers, encased in boxes across the stage. Katie loved flowers, we learn, and she’d spend hours tending to them in her childhood garden during the war. Ashby-Rock stars in this one person piece which is a masterful, yet sensitive handling of Katie’s story - a young girl gifted a violin by her father, who goes on to star in the National Youth Orchestra. As an adult, crippled with self doubt and anxiety, she quits a sky-rocketing career in music to facilitate the new tech of the time - studio recording. However this move is sadly cut short by the scourge of gender discrimination, when Katie falls pregnant with her first child.
An hour of captivating, entrancing story-telling
The show starts off as a beautifully moving account of Katie’s life, through the medium of Ashby-Rock’s bold narration combined with a welcome return of the overhead projector - beaming images of Katie throughout her life, onto a screen. A few moments occur to flag up that all is not as it seems - for example that Katie was a childhood friend of Queen Elizabeth, and that she spent a summer cycling half way around the world. These implausible tales cast doubt on Katie’s story, yet the narration is so earnestly heartfelt that we dispel our doubts with shame. Until the jaw dropping, tear inducing moment when the whole story unravels and we begin to understand that this is Katie’s story - her own story - a life cobbled together from the scraps left behind following the brutal effects of dementia.
This is perhaps the most poignantly personal piece Ashby-Rock will ever write, and his only ask of the audience is to have 15 people listen to Katie’s story every day of the Fringe. It’s really not a big ask considering how special a moment this show will gift to you. Katie’s story may be a life half remembered, but it wasn’t a life less lived. What Ashby-Rock delivers is an hour of captivating, entrancing story-telling which I defy even the stoniest heart to leave from unmoved.