These Lights – The Lir – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review by David Minogue
Tickets €11 – Dates Sep 14 – 16 @ 20:30 – Tickets €14 / €12 conc.
Duration 50 mins – Other performance Sep 16 @ 15:00
Venue: The Lir Academy Studio 2
Photo: Jenny Doyle
These Lights is set during an unspecified time in the future where the entire population has been implanted with computer chips. These chips which can be visibly seen on the backs of people’s necks control both information and emotions. They are regulated by the government and other external organisations and control how people act and feel.
This vision of the future is the premise for Jessie Doyle’s play which she also stars in, as the character Brid. The only other character on set is Brid’s sister Valentina (Clodagh Mooney Duggan). Both women are already on set when the audience enter the venue. The audience sit on two rows of seats each side of the set which is comprised of seven by three rows of floor tiles. The characters stand facing each other without moving. They look at each other as if they are observing sculptures in a museum. The design of the set creates a futuristic aesthetic. Valentina is dressed in a uniform like overalls. She wears a vest with her jacket tied around her waist. Brid’s clothes are a similar colour but she wears a more tailored jumpsuit. The costume design is very effective but where there is a subtle similarity in the characters is in their eye make-up. Minimalist music plays in the background for the duration of the play.
The early scenes of the play place the futuristic setting as being in Dublin. Because of the minimalist set, the characters describe the location for the audience. Valentina recounts a night out in Vicar Street. Her style of delivery is euphoric like slam poetry. Clodagh Mooney Duggan depicts well the night life of a city and how each emotion and experience is monitored by the chips each person has embedded. Standing on the opposite side of the set Brid is first introduced as someone travelling to Dublin. Brid is depicted as a figure within the realm of authority while Valentina is what is classified in the play as a dissenter.
There is a rush of information at various points of the story line. It is easy to get lost in some of this but there are several moments of strong visceral imagery. The beginning of the play is like reading two different chapters of a book at the same time. The better scenes are in the second half of the play and it is here that Jessie Doyle proves herself as an interesting new writer. There is no humour in this play but it blends drama, science fiction and horror with ease. Jessie Doyle and Clodagh Mooney Duggan commit entirely to their roles. The play dissects the relationship of the two sisters and it shifts the roles of protagonist and antagonist throughout in an original way.
The most obvious popular culture reference to this play is the television series Black Mirror, which first aired in 2011. The scary thing just six years later about Charlie Brooker’s vision of our technology controlled future is how many elements of the storylines are starting to come true. In real life our phones already dominate our lives but this play, for now in the realm of science fiction, goes a stage further. It imagines what happens when we let external organisations try to control every thought and action in our lives. It questions do we comply or do we resist? Or have we done so already.
Written by Jessie Doyle
Directed by Davey Kelleher
Production and Stage Manager: Emma Russell
Producer: Hannah-Lucy Joyce
Design – Hanna Bowe
Set Build: Padraig Darmody
Lighting Design: Eoin Lennon
Sound Design: Shane Robinson
Chief LX: John Brennan
Make Up: Aoife Rooney
Production Shots: Tristan Shiels