Saturday, June 24, 2017

Here We Lie - a dark morality play where lies are louder than truth (Lyric until 2 July)

With the hoods of their transparent rain macs up over their heads, the five members of the Here We Lie cast turn into feverishly grotesque goblins who feed off other people’s misery, the kind of souls who swap sympathy for information in times of trouble. Meeting in the aisles of the local supermarket, they swap tales gathered from social media as well as the streets of Loughshea.

When Brian (Antoinette Morelli with her hood down) admits to having an affair, Sharon McKevitt (Rosie McClellend) panics and screams out an even bigger revelation in retaliation. But she’s not dying.

However, words can’t easily be unspoken. Particularly when your husband blabs all in the pub and the local gossiping goblins decide that they can “Make Loughshea Great Again” by wallowing in your misery and boosting their profile and sense of self-importance by arranging fundraising, cake sales, and all manner of publicity.

In a time of need, everyone needs a friend. Enter Michelle (Louise Matthews) who has her own problems at home with unemployed husband Declan (Claire Connor) whose car accident while under the influence has created a financial meltdown. Meanwhile, mistress Paula (Bernadette Brown) has to contend with Brian’s conflicted loyalty.
“People aren’t stupid: have they caught on yet?”

The community grief at first deafens their ears to the truth. And when some do realise what is really going on, they are too caught up in their own plans and misfortune to be able to set the story straight. The circle of lies and deception spirals out of control as the community’s need for the fake news to be real heightens.

After the interval there are the inevitable confrontations; yet the revelations are pleasingly unpredictable if all the more shocking. Writer/director Patrick J O’Reilly’s has developed a sense of movement amongst the entire cast that accentuates the ghoulish and helps distinguish the gossiping witches from the main characters.

Niall Rea has created a dystopian world is which the entire set – including chairs, tables, beds, and walls – have been fashioned from supermarket trolleys and wire baskets. The only comfort comes from stuffed supermarket ‘bags for life’, perhaps referencing the temporary solace brought by money and the stuff it can buy.

If the set wasn’t a big enough clue, Isaac Gibson’s sound design firmly places the opening scenes in a supermarket and the comical tannoy announcements add to the dark mirth throughout.

The Lyric Theatre are currently hosting two shows with all-female casts. (The Ladykillers continues its run until 8 July.) The two shows raise questions about gender and comedy: whether audiences perceive women as funny – or funny in the same way – as men?

At times the script overly relies on cussing and swearing to generate the emotion of scenes. Bernadette Brown makes a fabulous jilted lover who challenges the cloud of deception and one stage intervenes without having to rely on over the top reactions. Louise Matthews has a superb repertoire of scowls that bring both Michelle and her rain mac-covered evil sprite to life. I never want to look out and see her at my window!

Here We Lie is a dark and sobering morality tale that is sinister rather than silly and avoids being played as a farce which might have garnered more laughs. We watch a victim being scapegoated as the entire community figure out how to live with the consequences of their monstrosity. Individually we may recognise ourselves in the on stage victims or perpetrators. But on a grander scale, Northern Ireland society too knows all about scapegoating and the ongoing upshot of community lies and mistruths.

Rawlife Theatre Company’s Here We Lie continues at the Lyric Theatre until 2 July.

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