Review: Here We Lie

A slight, but earnestly performed and produced satire of communal and familial relations held up by a familiar plot, Patrick J O'Reilly's Here We Lie stands out as a theatrical experiment driven by thrust and timeliness, its illustration of how damaging the simplest of fibs can be carrying both political and cultural weight for a large part of its one and a half hour running time.

Here We Lie opens with four girls, dressed up in cheap-looking macs, among a series of shopping trolleys both sloping and steady, and chains of shopping baskets hanging from the ceiling. Inhibited, as the Lyric Theatre's Naughton Studio and the girls are, by James McFetridge's dank, gloomy lighting, Niall Rea's set resembles as much supermarket as a prison, a manic and fearful cauldron of life.

The girls' movements are rigid and quirky, their accents are broadly suburban. Strutting around, passing rumours about the locals, the white-faced gossip girls are both clownish and ghostly at once, taking neither their chat nor the people they chat about entirely seriously. For their lives, it would seem, have drifted into a dead-end monotony. Less Here We Lie, more Here We (Will) Die.

Until roles shift and two of the gossip girls, with the simplest of costume changes (here, a hood removal) and expression switches, metamorphose into Sharon (Rosie McClelland) and Brian (Antoinette Morelli). Having discovered Brian with a mistress, the materialistic Paula (Bernadette Brown), Sharon concocts a lie about terminal cancer – which explodes into complications for her cheating husband and a charitable fund for the community to gather. The question is: how charitable?

As with all single sex productions on the NI stage this year, the point appears less about women playing men or vice versa, but that actors are first and foremost actors, with gender insignificant. Brian's bullish physical and facial contortions, those of a henpecked husband (or so he thinks) fighting to rediscover some control in his life, are believably sold by Antoinette Morelli, alongside a surprisingly edgy showing from Rosie McClelland.

No one seems to notice how ludicrous Sharon's "crying" over her "cancer" is, and no one seems or wants to believe her when she actually tells the truth. But such is the way for a woman who appears not to know how to react to terminal illness, or a group of people more concerned about how much money they can raise for a "good" cause.

As the gossip girls go on to perform choral tunes and off-kilter rave numbers for Sharon's foundation, it's evident that this lie has spiralled well out of control. If you say something enough times, people will believe it, and in a charity like this no one's motives are entirely honourable.

Especially when the total raised amounts to £250,000 and counting. By that stage Sharon and her friend Michelle (Louise Mathews) are left to contemplate: will Sharon have to take her own life? Will she be able to take the money and run? If only she had a time machine, she says. It's all very watchable. And darkly funny. Except when the focus shifts.

With so much energy expanded on Brian, Sharon and the points-of-view of Michelle and Paula, a related subplot involving Michelle and her husband Declan (Claire Connor) gets short shrift. Also, the comedy in the second act is less thoughtful and more physical than the first, dangerously treading the line of a soap opera with gross out elements. Fortunately Here We Lie finds its way through these setbacks to a staggering ending worthy of its game cast and promising set-up: call it the icing on the tip of a mostly well-baked cake.

Simon Fallaha

Here We Lie ran at the Naughton Studio at Belfast's Lyric Theatre. For more information visit and

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