Venue: Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre
‘Fourteen years ago four women made an extraordinary decision. They decided to die.
A haunting investigation based on real events in County Kildare into why we tell stories in the face of tragedy. Lippy was widely acknowledged as the most extraordinary piece of theatre to emerge from Ireland in 2013.
Lippy premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2013 where it was awarded the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Production. Lips went on to play the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014 where it picked up Herald Angel, Fringe First and a Total Theatre awards.’
As part of Behaviour Festival, Dead Centre bring ‘Lippy’ to Citizens Theatre. Based upon the true events of four women who seemingly starved themselves to death in County Kildare, Lippy is a confusion of elements lacking any sort of main point that would pull the performance together to create something meaningful. In trying to say so much it fails to say very much at all.
The actors are compelling in their performances, using body language and non-verbal communication to portray the words they are not saying, their movements deliberate and meaningful. Communication is a heavy theme of Lippy, despite sound and music being used more than words to convey the main points. Adam Welsh as Sound Design executes this very well and portrays the idea of miscommunications, however at times it is difficult to pinpoint the exact meaning behind sounds/music when put against the actions on stage. The musical number midway, for example, is difficult to decipher, aside from the religion meaning gained from the lyrics I am unsure as to it’s purpose.
Religion is used heavily throughout. The line “nearly at heaven” is used often, while bread and fish is referenced in quite a heavy handed manner. But perhaps the biggest theme is loneliness, and isolation which is an interesting concept to have pulled from the tragedy. Four women committing to die together is surely more of unity.
The subject of context is raised often to establish how difficult it can be to understand what it is going on without having any context at all. It almost seems as though the post-show discussion, that begins the play, and the nod to Becket in the post play monologue are there to provide some form of context for the performance itself. Both parts felt staged and unnecessary, the post play monologue created only more confusion in my mind and added questions as to whether Dead Centre really were trying to tell the story of the women. Only telling it from their own perspective and not from that of the truth, truth no one can ever know.
It is unclear what Lippy is aiming to achieve, I left the theatre feeling nothing but confusion and a feeling it was a very male dominated production despite the basis being a tale of women. It did make me want to know more of the tragedy of these women and what led to their deaths, however that is not due to the performance itself, only the knowledge of what it is based upon. Ben Kidd and Bush Moukarzel have directed Lippy in an inventive way however it is very thin on content and depth despite it’s potential to be insightful and emotional, and is wrapped in pretentiousness that is not necessary.