LipSync / Cumbernauld Theatre

Biographical performances like LipSync, produced by Cumbernauld Theatre as part of their Invited Guest project, don't always have some obvious, political point to make; they're more often encouraging audience empathy, sharing someone's life experiences and view of the world. The nearest that this new two-woman show comes to point-making is when Kirsty Young, the subject of the piece, admits she wants to be more than just "a speciality market for giant pharmaceutical companies".

This show is scary only in the sense of how quickly we become intimately concerned with Kirsty's life.

For Kirsty has "CF", Cystic Fibrosis. Diagnosed in 1997, when she was eight years old and only interested in Boyzone, pickled onions and singing, the rest of her life has been increasingly shaped by the disease. (Not least that, according to current medical practice, she’s supposedly meant to be always at least two metres away from any other person with CF, her younger sister included.) There are simple diagrams explaining how people without CF can nevertheless be carriers of the mutated genes responsible; there are detailed explanations of hospital stays, of the anticipation and doubts about the latest Superdrug treatments.

This is an emotive introduction to what the American writer Susan Sontag memorably described as “the kingdom of the sick”, filtered through the theatrical device of Kirsty sharing the stage with Alisa Davidson; both dressed identically, both sitting at hospital bedside tables, both either speaking simultaneously, or finishing each other's sentences. Directors Amy Angus and Ed Robson use a combination of lighting, subtle soundscapes and the heartfelt interaction between the two performers (who do not self-identify until near the end of the show) to envelop the audience in a world created from the fragility of Kirsty’s very real situation.

"We don’t mean to frighten you," Kirsty tells us. To be honest, this show is scary only in the sense of how quickly we become intimately concerned with Kirsty's life and her "drowning from the inside". But, vitally, we also know not to pity her; to quote the Billy Joel song which punctuates the show: "I don't need you to worry for me 'cause I'm alright... Go ahead with your own life, leave me alone."

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★
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W*nk Buddies

★★★
Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

★★★★
Platform / Traverse Theatre

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★★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

Two performers speak one story, one life... but only one is telling their own personal truth... A new play about honesty, illness and all the joys of breathing. This is an intimate, part-sung, part-spoken production with challenging personal themes. Created by one of Scotland's leading theatres, following up on the company's sleeper smash hit of Fringe 2017, The Gardener – critically acclaimed as one of the festival discoveries that year. Herald Angel award winners. 'Perfectly formed gem... most moving play of the year' ***** (Times). 'Fragile and intimate... tautly written, excellently acted, sweetly staged' **** (Scotsman).

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