Fringe Online 2021
Written by Eoin McAndrew, Directed by Fay Lomas, Costume Designer Anna Kezia Williams, Movement Director Georgina Makhubele and Sound Design by Lex Kosanke for JST’s Footprints Festival. Designed by Louie Whitmore. Lighting by Johanna Town’s simple. Camera work from several angles (Director Mark Swadel, Operator Balazs Weidner), including seventy-five degrees overhead, are deftly sequenced. To July 8th . Filmed and may be later available as stream.
So a handsome American tourist arrives, hungry for history. Well this is the place of hunger, the hunger. Rachael Rooney’s Catriona and Anne Bird as her mother’s voice, show what exactly the tightrope between people thinking you’ve been ill and inhabiting, tell another world, and taking a decision to invent one.
For the best reasons Bird’s voice is trying to find out exactly what Catriona’s doing. You feel its controlling. There’s more. ‘I’ve always been a good liar. If you have a skill, you have to hone it.’
Eoin McAndrew’s The Girl Who Was Very Good at Lying takes a nominally distressed recovering young woman and draws you in as she takes apart a gullible American history addict, whose family once came from Mayo. One not hugely knowledgeable. For instance aren’t Irish Americans more racists? Catriona asks innocently.
That’s nothing. McAndrew’s text crackles with storytelling brio where Rooney’s jokey intensity, poise between comic laughter and manic terror. So there’s a house where 400 were shot by the British – well you need spice of plausibility. The Hunger where the feasting are broken into and eaten. ‘‘History is violence.’ ’That’s very true.’ Which to be fair… I guess it was.’ There’s flirting, then a girl 50 years ago who thought she was a rooster, and what happens when to avoid lobotomy and ECT a doctor says he’s a rooster too; that like him, she must pretend to be a human. And then, you click.
Then there’s the kindest pub manager in the world on the phone and Catriona’s spinning dramas for time. And of course ‘if you’re lying so prolifically you have to tell a true story’ and relates one: the drunk man who thought a statue was his father and punched him. Then had to have his hand amputated and got done for insider trading. Our Man form Ohio for once hardly believes her.
There’s a nun and priest tale that turns into an orgy. This gets hot. And then riffing the future and then – an antiphony of phones and decisions. And louder dreams, a fugue of frantic. The end, where Bird’s voice – not heard except at the opening – counterpoints Rooney’s to a visceral climax.
Written by Eoin McAndrew (most recently on one of the Royal Court Living Newspapers, the distrait monologue Internet Boy 1999-Present), and directed by Fay Lomas (who directed a superbly-updated version of Knut Hamsun’s 1888 novel Hunger at the Arcola), Costume Designer Anna Kezia Williams, Movement Director Georgina Makhubele and Sound Design by Lex Kosanke for JST’s Footprints Festival. Designed by Louie Whitmore with a curtain and two chairs. Lighting by Johanna Town’s around yellow, like a low-light bar, virid green, electric blue and all kind of plush reds.
Rooney’s spellbinding. Whilst echoing other tales about a coming-to-self in Ireland like A girl is a half-formed thing – Andrews vividly conveys something different: what it is to be an undone thing, someone unravelling tales to live, whose damage is invisible, inscrutable, perhaps unknowable.