BWW Reviews: LIPPY, Young Vic, February 26 2015

I was left confused by Bush Moukarzel, Mark O' Halloran and Dead Centre's 'Lippy'. In an interview I read about the production in the Irish Independent, Moukarzel claims the only research he did into the tragic death by self-imposed starvation of a family of women in Ireland in 2000 was what was already in the public domain. Nothing much is known about why the sisters and their aunt chose to kill themselves in such a slow and painful way, other than that they wanted to be in the after-life, but Moukarzel and co-director Ben Kidd seem to imagine their suffering in the style of a hallucinatory acid house rave, which on one hand seems dark and disrespectful to any reasons the family may have had to do what they did, yet on the other it is an artistic and surreal interpretation of a curious story.

'Lippy' is a no-interval show of two halves. In the first twenty minutes we are treated to an informal imaginary post -how Q&A with Moukarzel himself interviewing actor and sometime lip-reader David Heap. A pre-reprieve to the unnerving scenes which are about to follow, the audience is shown 'YouTube DVDs' of Martin Scorsese's 'Casino' where the main protagonists cover their mouths whilst plotting to avoid being lip read by watching cops. In a post-modern quirk 'Andy the Technician' keeps fluffing the tech, playing the wrong clips and causing sound feedback.

The conversation between Moukarzel and Heap leads eventually to the idea of 'putting words into people's mouths' which is essentially what he has done to Catherine, Bridg-Ruth, Josephine and Frances by depicting (loosely) their final hours/days/weeks (we aren't sure of time anymore) in a squalid house where the doors were sealed and the heating turned up as one by one the sisters and aunt succumbed to death.

The room is strewn with shredding (the family chose to destroy their personal documents before they died), black bin liners also litter the stage. The constant moving of the rubbish around and the gradual decline into mess is unnerving as is the pumping loud music and the flickering lighting and feedback.

What little action there is by the women is observed or sometimes narrated by David Heap. He tempts them to eat; "the devil is man" says one of the sisters.

Ultimately these women wanted to die, and they wanted to leave no trace. Is it uncomfortable that Moukarzel and Dead Centre are telling an imagined version of a very real tragedy? Possibly yes, but isn't that also the basis of a lot of art? It's certainly a compelling case, 'Lippy' provides no answers to the whys but it certainly raises a lot of questions.

Until 14 March

The interview with Bush Moukarkel can be read here - Lip service to the idea that tragedy makes good theatre

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From This Author Kate Finburg

Kate is a part-time journalist living in London and working in the television and film industry. Passions are London leisure time and exploring our capital (read more...)

  • BWW Review: THE STRIPPER, St James Studio, 11 July 2016
  • BWW Reviews: LIPPY, Young Vic, February 26 2015
  • BWW Reviews: KILL ME NOW, Park Theatre, February 24 2015
  • BWW Reviews: A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, Wyndham's Theatre, February 17 2015
  • BWW Reviews: BULL, Young Vic, January 15 2015
  • BWW Reviews: SELFIE, Ambassadors Theatre, October 7 2014
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