In a sun-kissed land dripping with beautiful people in swimming
costumes and shades, the lazy calm is about to be shattered by the
aftermath of a fatal car crash in which the un-named golden boy who may
have killed a chav who told him the truth just found out he's a cuckoo
in the nest. What comes out of this mix of oedipal envy and Ballardian
future-shock is an urgent three-hander in which revolutionary spirit is
reborn in the shadows.
This world premiere of an un-named work by Mark Ravenhill is the latest
offering from the Lyric Hammersmith's Secret Theatre Company, in which
audiences effectively go to see something blind and without any kind of
marketing hype to tell them in advance what to think. The fact that the
company have let slip that this is a Ravenhill play, however, is
probably wise in the hurly-burly of the Fringe.
Ravenhill's clipped, pared-down exchanges are invested with a classical
weight in Caroline Steinbeis's production, in which Steven Webb's
young hero and Cara Hogan's partner in crime spars with Matti
Houghton's possibly wicked step-mother in this punchiest of calls to
Putting words into other people's mouths is the playwright's great
privilege. This is something Bush Moukarzel makes clear, even as his
characters silences and longeurs are possibly mis-translated by a
lip-reader in Moukarzel and co-director Ben Kidd's genre-busting
production for their London/Dublin-based Dead Centre company.
It begins with a post-show discussion of a play we haven't seen, as
Moukarzel plays the cocky interviewer of Dan Reardon's Lip Reader. What
looks initially like an in-joke opens out into an inquiry of how things
can be misinterpreted before exploding into the play's second part.
This focuses on the real life tragedy of four women who starved
themselves to death in their boarded-up house in a small Irish town.
Instead of attempting to find out why, Moukarzel casts the four women
as silent witnesses to their own fate by way of a series of woozy
routines watched over by the Lip Reader.
The upending of perspectives and lip-synching to doo-wop songs may all
be the hallucinatory product of the women's fevered imaginations, but
this audaciously poignant dreamscape is far more than vogueish
deconstruction. It ends with a life and death monologue by Mark
O'Halloran as delivered by one sister's disembodied lips seen in
close-up onscreen. With such a delivery clearly referencing Samuel
Beckett's Not I, this might not be about the women's plight in any
conventional sense, but has made them immortal anyway.
Mush and Me
When Jewish girl Gabby and Muslim Mush are put next to each other at
the call centre they're both marking time in, mutual disdain and a
knack for conning the customers soon blossoms into something else in
Karla Crome's new play that embraces cultural and religious divides to
heartwarming effect. Inspired by actress Daniella Isaacs' 102 year old
aunt, who declined a marriage proposal from a Christian for fear of
what her parents might think, Crome brings things bang up to date in
Rosy Banham's sassy little production that has Gabby and Mush, played
by Isaacs and David Mumemi, skirt around their differences with the
bemused diffidence only the young can have.
The result in this Underbelly Ideas Tap winner is not only one of the
sweetest and most street-smart love stories to define modern,
multi-cultural Britain, but is a quietly political little microcosm of
how age-old conflicts might be dealt with by a younger generation, not
with bombs and boycotts, but with tolerance, love and a mutual distaste
for bacon rolls.
The Herald, August 12th 2014