Lex Talionis review: A bird’s-eye view of revenge tragedy
Dublin Fringe Festival: Excellent performances make Liam Heylin’s pithy new play fly
Lex Talionis: the cast are subtle, birdlike without overegging it. Photograph: Aoife Cahill
Smock Alley Theatre
★ ★ ★ ★
You can look at Liam Heylin’s pithy new play as a sly allegory about inherited divisions and urban violence or as a straight-up Cork-city revenge tragedy played out by actual birds. Either way, you should see Wandering Star’s production, a high-wire concept given gritty argot and excellent performances to really make it fly.
Played by Sinéad Donnelly and Aisling McCarthy as streetwise figures, costumed in a conspiracy of blacks, Mooney and Hugh are two rooks secure in the pecking order. But with the arrival of a pair of goth-chic magpies, the excitable Max (an arresting Sinéad McGee) and her psychotically resentful pal Dónie (the terrific Bláithín MacGabhann), soon havoc reigns and feathers fly.
Katrina Foley’s direction is admirably sparing – if less is more, this may be most – focusing on fine details, like a stark tragedy signalled in affectingly modest ways. The cast are similarly subtle, birdlike without overegging it, just as Heylin resists the puns that a reviewer never would.
MacGabhann’s performance, a Fringe standout, is a compelling portrait of agitation and menace, while the revelation of the play, finally, is its quiet faith in humanity.