Paying more than lip service

We may never be able to interpret an unfathomable tragedy, but Lippy has extraordinary things to say about it



The Lir


“Context is everything,” says a lip-reader when explaining the rules of interpretation. What does it say about Bush Moukarzel’s uniquely arresting and unsettling show for Dead Centre, that it keeps shifting its own context? In the first of many bracing gestures, we begin with an ending: a post-show discussion enjoyably derailed by narcissism, no-shows and technical difficulties. Here we meet actor and lip-reader Daniel Reardon, who mentions, almost in passing, his work on a Garda investigation into the disturbing suicide pact between four women in Leixlip, in 2000. By interpreting one conversation, he has made meaning of the unfathomable, putting words in their mouths. The stage seems to buckle with his conscience; reality twists and snaps.

Through arch devices, uncanny design and startling effects, Moukarzel and co-director Ben Kidd bring Reardon – and us – into a drifting nightmarish vision of that Leixlip home. Metatheatrical fillips remind us that everything here is unreal, a theatrical trespass, so any easy interpretation is suspect. But the darkly surreal warp of performance is deeply affecting, conjuring up tortured images of religion, demons and death. A final lyrical and disorienting monologue by “cameo playwright” Mark O’Halloran, delivered by Gina Moxley, spells out a debt to Beckett, the master of absence and elusive meaning. But otherwise, in concept and execution, Lippy is like nothing else you’ll see.

Ends Sept 14