Lying is a ‘skill’ that should be honed and perfected, according to Catriona, the protagonist in Eoin McAndrew’s dazzling new play, The Girl Who Was Very Good at Lying, now playing at The Omnibus Theatre in Clapham.
As is probably evident from the title, not much of what Catriona says can be relied upon to be the gospel truth, in fact it’s more likely to be the complete opposite. Confined to the small Northern Irish town with a population of around 200 that has been Catriona’s home since birth, and with a seemingly nagging mother, there is little excitement in this 21-year-olds life.
That is until a handsome American comes to town to research the local history. Catriona offers herself up as tour guide and local historian. The fact that she knows nothing about the town’s past doesn’t pose a problem, she’ll just make it up.
So, as we tour this unnamed town with the unnamed man, Catriona embarks on long sprawling stories of events that never took place. From a religious orgy to starving farmers in the Potato Famine, each story becomes more outrageous than the last.
There’s more to it than the untruths though, Eoin McAndrew’s script uses the lies to slowly reveal Catriona’s truth, and uncovers layers of mental health issues that are difficult to ignore. However, this is largely a very comedic play, driven by the ever-growing list of fabrications.
The Girl Who Was Very Good at Lying had a very brief showing at the Jermyn Street Theatre previously and has been reworked for this first full official staging. It is simply, but beautifully done, with a scenic backdrop that could be mistaken for a spiders web, reminding us of Catriona’s web of lies. It’s Amy Hill’s lighting and Lex Kosanke’s sound design that elevates the staging, helping create the sense of helplessness felt by a young person in rural Northern Ireland.
Rachael Rooney’s outstanding performance is a must see. Wild and unpredictable in one moment, vulnerable and hurting in the next. Rooney maintains unbelievable energy throughout the performance, and when recounting these fantastical tales, has the audience utterly captivated.
McAndrew’s vividly descriptive script gives Rooney a good starting point, and director Fay Lomas has worked with that to create a production that rarely stops for breath, but always feels considered and well thought through, allowing the audience to understand Catriona, perhaps better than she understands herself.
This is the kind of play that would be a runaway word of mouth hit at the Edinburgh Fringe, because The Girl Who Was Very Good at Lying is a superb hour of theatre, with a solo performance that has been honed to perfection. And that’s the honest truth. The Girl Who Wat Very Good at Lying is at The Omnibus Theatre until 21st November.