Theatre: Mayfest 2015 review: Lippy

Lucie Wood, May 23, 2015

Lippy is a blacker-than-black piece of theatre that sticks to your thoughts like an oil-slick as you leave. It’s as bleak as it is as challenging.

This Mayfest contribution from Dublin’s Dead Centre starts confusingly as we become the audience at a post-show talk. An actor being interviewed talks about how he used to be a lip-reader for the Irish Guardi – and about lip-reading’s huge potential for misinterpretation.

We then move to his narration – and the main part of the show: the true story of three sisters and an elderly aunt who boarded themselves into their house and deliberately starved to death, for a reason that died with them. The play guesses at their story, while also muddying the waters – aren’t we just putting words into their mouths? How can the powerless be heard? What, if anything, were these women trying to say?

The filmed close-up of the mouth as the last sister to die tells her story is difficult to watch. Backed by a powerful soundtrack and some superb choreography, Lippy leaves a tangible sense of death and loss – and more questions than answers. 

Lippy is at Bristol Old Vic on Friday, May 22 and Saturday, May 23 (incl matinee) as part of Mayfest 2015. For more info and to book tickets, visit mayfestbristol.co.uk/mayfest2015/lippy

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