Lies Where It Falls

Photo: Accidental Theatre

A delicate and passionate portrayal of lives troubled and truncated, Ruairi Conaghan's one-man show Lies Where It Falls, a Fresh And Well Production directed by Patrick O'Kane, impresses and endures in its examination of what theatre means as a profession for an actor and as an expressive exploration of the human soul. It is a truthful and elegant projection of the fine and complicated transitional line between worlds genuine and artistic, presented through a solo performance so raw and real that the overall effect is near hypnotic.

Try, if you will, to imagine that legendary line from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, "the play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King" stripped of its original context entirely and reinterpreted as a situation where the emotional weight from one's formative years, which may linger as heavily on one's conscience as the responsibilities from many types of leadership, is captured on stage for an audience. That's possibly what you get here from Conaghan, who actually did portray The Player King in the National Theatre's production of Hamlet in 2015 – the burden of his real and theatrical past adding up in front of everyone watching in the theatre, but to the point where we are enlightened and appreciative rather than entirely overwhelmed.

For while Lies Where It Falls is a piece which provides plenty of opportunities for enjoyment – there is light laughter to be had in many an instance, along with a pleasant acoustic take on The Jam and The Beatles – Conaghan and O'Kane never lose sight of the bravery in the piece. The theme of examining the families people had, the families people have and the "families" people create for themselves when seeking purpose and praise is blended adroitly and relayed sensitively. We are made to ponder the trauma of lives prematurely concluded and how selective memories of ancestry stand out as the building blocks for identity. We find ourselves exploring the change in stance which can arise when a "just cause" is no longer thought as "just" given the additional context of damaging consequences which can leave an immortal imprint. And we see the perception of culture from abroad and contrast it against the reality, considering the popular versus the authentic – along with the inherent difficulty of presenting integrity when the subject may hit too close to home.

What Conaghan, and O'Kane, appear to have done with Lies Where It Falls is significantly and distinctively present a world where even art can only offer a feeling of safety because of the material's potential for emotional and psychological pain. Where time may well be a healer, but not for everyone, and where the search for real healing is that much more important. In a big sense, Lies Where It Falls is about what happens when discomforting truths sink deeply, maybe too deeply, into the very world we advance towards or retreat into in order to escape them – and why peace of mind ceases to be a desire and becomes a necessity amidst continuous pain and uncertainty.

Simon Fallaha

Lies Where It Falls runs at the Lyric Theatre until Sunday October 1. For more information, and tickets, click here.