Short of Lying – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review

Short of Lying – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review
by Brian Merriman

Venue: Project Arts Centre (Space Upstairs) – Date(s): 11-12 Oct. 7.30pm

Luanda Casella’s ‘Short of Lying’ is challenging, contemporary and a lie…or is it? Staged well in ‘Ted talk’ mode, it is theatrical and strongly delivered.

Casella, a Brazilian now living in Belgium, is no advocate, false prophet or evangelist. By restraining a ‘sales pitch’ does she in fact seal the deal? There is no doubt she is clever, structured and deeply analytical. We need deep analysis for what we take for granted these days as ‘fact’. Our facts are online, who wrote them, why, and are they fake or real?

Isn’t there a commonality in all social media discourse, in that it constructs the tools of influence, and as you are reading this online, some intentional impact is required. The ‘clickbait’ is guaranteed, the rewards attained and ‘success’ achieved. It is an addiction and we are all addicts…aren’t we?

This constructed narrative guides us along deliberate paths, some are warm and personal, others are fiction and her authoritative delivery ensures we are left to our own judgement (if we have any left) to decide, to ‘fact check’. She eloquently challenges … do we ‘fact check’ anymore, if not, why not? Aren’t we now addicted and conditioned to believe?

One hour on social media could take a month to ‘fact check’ and it is that certainty that creates the space for influence, as we give up and too readily accept what we read. Her analysis of ‘confessional’ social media posts is particularly revealing. People create vulnerability in order to be believed and to win your empathy. It is chilling to consider. We are all now addicts.

As Casella asks us to agree to her releasing influences on our brain and emotions, you realise no such permission is sought online? This is storytelling, and as in all stories, do they lead the listener down chosen routes, set up opportunities for influence and get us to agree or accept the conclusion?

Casella is a refined directional guide. As we begin to trust, she honestly decides to confuse, in order for us to think. Haven’t we forgotten to think, as we feed our ‘fact’ addictions online for hours every day and to whose and what benefit?

‘Vulnerability’ is used to make you ‘like’ someone, but is this a use of truth or lying? Oscar Wilde, almost a century and a half ago wrote an essay on ‘The Decay of Lying’. Perhaps he should not have worried?

Casella’s had finessed this latest commentary with skill and intent. We continue to lie now. It is accelerated through social media and we are so oversupplied to even care? It’s a win for whom and how many?

Well, one winner is Casella, she makes you think… And hopefully to re-think. But can one voice in a theatre replace the global online invention with truth? No…but it’s a start. So many questions.

A well-constructed and finely delivered start …and that’s the only certainty and truth!

Cast and Creative Team: 
Directed, Created and Performed by: Luanda Casella
Set Design: Felix Fasolt
Lighting Design: Maria Dermitzaki
Costume Design: Joy Vervaeke
Music and Sound Design: Pablo Casella
Music Composition: Pablo Casella

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