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Rachael Rooney is captivating in this immersive production


BWW Review: THE GIRL WHO WAS VERY GOOD AT LYING, Omnibus Theatre After a short run as part of Jermyn Street Theatre's Footprints Festival Eoin McAndrew's inventive and intriguing play, The Girl Who Was Very Good At Lying, now arrives at Clapham's Omnibus Theatre.

Catriona is a young woman, still living at home in a small town in Northern Island. She works in a local pub and life is rather dull. When an American tourist walks into the pub, Catriona is captivated and offers to show him around. Aware that her surroundings are unremarkable, she decides to embellish the truth and create a much more exciting history. The fiction starts to unravel as her stories become increasingly incredible and the situation spirals out of hand.

Rachael Rooney is incredibly engaging as Catriona. Her storytelling is wild and detailed; she is a bored young woman who uses her vivid imagination to create a more interesting world. However, she also has other issues, as she clearly does not believe that she is of interest to other people unless she has an outlandish story to tell.

Rooney gives us clues about Catriona's past: her hands move nervously, her fingers worry at her frayed sleeves, she often moves rather manically as her eyes dart around. It is a very physical performance and Rooney displays the seeming bravado of the character being reduced to a lonely and sad young woman like a balloon being burst.

Rooney also brings alive the other characters; including the unnamed American, his wife and her own seemingly-intense mother. She jumps between accents and physical stances rapidly and convincingly. Catriona's mother is an intriguing presence; wanting and needing to find out every tiny detail of her daughter's day, but morphing into something completely different. The curious American is actually a bystander to Catriona but still feels a little underwritten.

McAndrew's writing embraces the power of storytelling and questions why we usually believe what we are told. Are we on Catriona's side or do we disapprove of her lies? She regals the tourist with increasingly outlandish events, such as 'this is where the British shot hundreds of townspeople' and 'this is where the clergy had an orgy.'. In the space of an hour, we realise that we are witnessing a person unravelling and are given an insight into Catriona's intense vulnerability and mental instability.

Anna Kezia Williams' design uses a huge, gathered white fabric awning that feels like being inside a parachute. With just two white chairs and an overhead lampshade, the look is sparse and relies on Fay Lomas' decisive direction to create interest. Lex Kosande's sound design and Amy Hill's lighting also work very well to create and punctuate a variety of different scenes, from a domestic kitchen table, to a beach and a local pub.

McAndrew's writing is brought alive with an intense and very believable performance from Rooney. This is a thought-provoking, funny and entertaining production that leaves you with a lingering feeling of sadness, but also a glimmer of hope.

The Girl Who Was Very Good At Lying is at the Omnibus Theatre until 21 November

Photo Credit: Ellie Grice

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