Lie Low - Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Updated: Aug 4
Traverse Theatre 2
A relatively new play by Ciara Elizabeth Smyth was produced by Belfast’s Prime Cut Productions, had a stella season at the Abbey in Dublin and now makes its way to Traverse 2 as part of Edinburgh Fringe. I come to it knowing that personal hero, Irish playwright Enda Walsh, has called it “Wild and hilarious”. I had to see it. Taking an absurdist approach to sexual consent and false memory, this 70-minute drama shifts disarmingly from absurd humour to tense confrontation. The play keeps peeling open like an onion.
Fay (Charlotte McCurry) is in a consultation with a third doctor (the voice of Rory Nolan) over her 20 nights of insomnia. She inhabits a spartan flat with only a wardrobe she kept once her mother passed away. She hasn’t been able to sleep since she was sexually violated by a masked man who had been hiding in the wardrobe. Estranged brother Naiose (Michael Patrick) makes an unexpected visit and Faye enlists him to try a form of home-made exposure therapy. It is all harking back to games they played as children and soon becomes very murky. Naiose reveals he has a problem of his own. He is on the brink of losing his job due to an allegation against him of sexual misconduct from a work colleague. Stakes skyrocket and accusations fly. Cleverly, writer Ciara Elisabeth Smyth has created knowable characters and we simultaneously understand multiple points of view.
Added to all this seriousness are some infectious upbeat dance numbers. Both writer Ciara Elizabeth Smyth and director Oisín Kearney constantly plays with expectations. And not just with the dance numbers. The bookends of the piece, played out in the consultation rooms, are quite odd as they almost feel from another play. I like that Smyth kept these scenes and the play true to herself. Its oddness will linger in the memory.
A third actor, Thomas Finnegan cuts the rug quite brilliantly and I applaud Smyth for adding a buoyant layer of crazy to what could have been a down-beat play about two lost siblings. Michael Patrick is beautifully nuanced as Naiose and can really dial up the emotion as the drama develops. Charlotte McCurry is effervescent, lively detailed. The combined energy of these two wonderful actors make sparks fly.
Don’t miss this modest but polished drama. A great way to start the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Odyssey.
Disclosure: I attended a preview performance and paid for my ticket.