Lippy at The Young Vic
Unsure of what it is, but undeniably brilliant, Lippy refuses to fit into the neat box labelled theatre, instead spilling and sprawling out into the realms of live art and the bizarre. It begins as a parody of a post-show talk with Bush Moukarzel interviewing David Heap, a co-director and advisor. The interview rattles along nicely enough, Moukarzel gets lots of laughs, but some of the audience is already getting a little antsy. The problem? We haven’t seen the show they’re discussing.
No doubt those wriggling in their seats at this point left the performance of Lippy confused and frustrated. One woman declared that she was on her way to the box office to demand her money back. But for those who like their theatre to be anti-theatre, to be weird and new and exciting, this is an absolute must-see.
We are lead down a tangent. Heap can lip-read and once helped the police on a particularly gruesome case in which three sisters and their elderly aunt barricaded themselves in their house, using the fridge to block the front door, and starved themselves to death. They were found surrounded by bin bags full of shredded paper. It was more than just a suicide pact: the women, wishing to erase themselves entirely, had torn their personal documents by hand. It was as if they had never existed.
As the post-show disappears and the women take over, we watch their cruel demise, desperately seeking an understanding of their last, hungry 40 days. Trying to understand the fragments of Lippy is as futile as analysing the shattered glass of the vase that gets broken, or looking for meaning in the chunk of coffee cup one of the sisters bites off and spits out, blood everywhere. Heap narrates as the women (Joanna Banks, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú, Liv O’Donoghue and Eileen Walsh) move around awkwardly, half-dead already. Sometimes they speak for themselves, sometimes his voice comes out of their mouths like they’re possessed. Sometimes they shout “this isn’t how it happened”. They left nothing behind so we can never know. Their lips are moving but the words have been put there by the writers, the lip-reader, or the audience.
Lippy is eerie, dark and hyper-meta, like a Beckett-inspired horror film put back onstage against its own will. You have to see it to believe it, and even then you probably won’t.
Lippy is on at The Young Vic until 14th March 2015, for further information or to book visit here.