The Girl Who Was Very Good at Lying

13/08/22

Summerhall (Tech Cube 0), Edinburgh

Twenty-one year old Catriona (Rachael Rooney) doesn’t have much to occupy her. She lives with her mum in the house she grew up in, and spends each day trudging through the same grinding routine. She gets up; she showers; she eats breakfast; she goes to work in the local pub. Every evening, she comes home and sits down to dinner with her mum, answering the same list of questions, all while staring at a ‘live, laugh, love’ sign that seems designed to mock her. The only thing that ever changes is the breakfast, which ranges from porridge all the way to Coco Pops.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that, when an American tourist comes into the pub one day, she starts to fantasise. He’s the most exotic and exciting person who’s ever crossed the threshold. After all, there are only two hundred people living in her village; she knows them all.

And they know her. Her history.

With the American, Catriona is free to reinvent herself: to be his knowledgable tour-guide, his link to Northern Ireland’s past. After all, she’s very, very good at lying. Even to herself…

Rooney brings Eoin McAndrew’s compelling script to life with an intensity that is hard to describe. The room crackles with tension: this performance is a real tour de force. Fay Lomas’s electric direction – all jarring sound effects and choreographed scene changes that feel somehow like ruptures – ensures we’re every bit as stressed as Catriona; as she spirals out of control, we’re with her, every spin. It’s a powerful evocation of a mental health crisis – and an entertaining, mesmerising piece of theatre.

5 stars

Susan Singfield

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