Aug 25 2016 | By More

★★★☆☆    Ambitious

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39) 23 – 27 August 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

By turns absurd, winsome and tragic, Theatre Paradok’s Lippy at theSpace on the Mile is a challenging, bleakly funny and ultimately impenetrable affair.

Bush Moukarzel’s play begins in a pleasingly meta-theatrical manner with a post-show discussion to a performance that has not taken place, leading to apparent interactions with venue staff. If this confuses the audience, it is as nothing compared to what follows – a demanding, poetic, Beckettian exploration of the true story of four women from the same family who starved themselves to death in County Kildare in 2000, in an apparent suicide pact.

Brett McCarthy Harrop, Erin Whalley and Georgie Maria Rodgers. Photo Theatre Paradok

Brett McCarthy Harrop, Erin Whalley and Georgie Maria Rodgers. Photo Theatre Paradok

The title refers to a lip-reader employed by the police to interpret CCTV footage. Played with some delicacy by Grace Dickson, the character is used to make intriguing points about how lip-reading, like any communication, can be misinterpreted, and about relationships between those in power and the unheard. Spencer Bellows and Claire Lumsden also impress in the opening section, with Sarah Lamb’s acerbic interviewer particularly noteworthy.

The closing sections are much more problematic. Given the almost impossible task of interpreting some elusive and harrowing poetry, and also of convincing as middle-aged Irish women, Brett McCarthy Harrop, Erin Whalley, Georgie Rodgers and Jennifer Jones have a hugely difficult task. That they succeed to the degree they do is praiseworthy, but a diffuseness in this section that is not wholly explained by the unusual material.

Nevertheless, there is a troubling beauty to some of this, helped by attention to detail and movement direction that is notably strong throughout.

This is a difficult piece which raises troubling questions about how valid it is to interpret other people’s lives – including the notion of putting their real lives on stage. Had this – its first non-professional production – succeeded entirely it would almost have been a miracle. While this is a more mixed success, it is still definitely worth doing.

Running time: 55 minutes
theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39), 80 High Street, EH1 1TH
Tuesday 23 – Saturday 27 August 2016
Daily at 8.50 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Company website:
Twitter:  @LippyFRINGE2016
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