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Lies Low

by on 18 January 2019

Tweaking the Triangle

Lies Low

by Rian Flatley

Clariann Productions at the Coward Studio, Hampton Hill Theatre until 19th January

A review by Eleanor Lewis

Lies Low, on the face of it, is a love triangle. It is the usual love triangle format, a man and two women and it occurs to me in passing that I can’t recall a love triangle drama involving a woman and two men and it’s probably time someone wrote one, but I digress.


Love triangle aside, there is a great deal more to the lives of the three characters in Lies Low than their relationship issues, which is quite frustrating because the potentially interesting plot lacks the required pace. It lacks a director.

I suppose every reviewer has their ‘thing’. This one currently has two: the biggest being directors (please get one if you’re doing a play); the second props. Directors have specific skills and they’re really useful. They haven’t written the play which makes them objective about it and therefore likely to produce it in the most effective way. If you’ve written the play you’re protective of it (as you should be) but as the writer, your role is to produce the food while the director gives the dinner party.

Lies Low has the type of story arc that requires a build-up of tension and a drip-feed of information. Whilst attempting to achieve this, it rather crawled through a couple of lengthy sections in the middle which served mainly to produce some heroic acting from Clare Gollop who was left alone on stage, more than once, with little to do other than look around a flat, for what felt like a very long time.

Similarly, towards the end of the piece, Kate Winder’s reaction to discovering the truth about her lover suggested that the direction she’d been given amounted to: “just really shout a lot”. Understandable, but dramatically there are a lot of opportunities for channelling your venom as a scorned woman and really getting under his skin at this point rather than just yelling as loud as you can.

Andrew McDonald’s portrayal of a confused rather than particularly complex middle aged man was a little black and white which again, may be due to direction (or writing).
Mr McDonald stumbled a little with his lines and this may have been first night nerves but beyond this, his character’s relentlessly aggressive and irritated attitude towards his wife needed a little tempering in order to make him sympathetic in any way at all.

Producing theatre, particularly new writing on a low budget, is both difficult and a good thing to do. It helps though, if you can iron out the details. Scene changes in this work took longer than was ideal and seemed to be governed by when the keyboard player providing the soundtrack had finished his agreed section of music. This would be better the other way round, with the actors dictating when the change is finished, it would help maintain pace. The soundtrack itself was an asset, being gentle and complimentary to the drama, as was the lighting which darkened effectively at appropriate moments.

Granted, props are not top of the priority list, but boy can they spring to the forefront sometimes! A small brown carrier bag which is apparently full of sandwiches but is evidently full of nothing at all has an annoying ability to draw attention to itself, particularly in the small space that is Hampton Hill’s studio. Empty sandwich wrappers stuffed with paper would suffice but sending it on empty makes it surprisingly noticeable. (Though this isn’t unusual, I’ve seen many actors, pro and amateur, breezily lifting apparently full suitcases as though they’re tissues plucked from a box).

All of which is rather negative, and that’s a shame because Lies Low has quite a lot of potential but would greatly benefit from some tweaking and trimming. The middle section moves very slowly. The revelation of everyone and everything at the end is rushed and the interesting explanation as to why one of the characters has a gun is given away almost casually. Sort out those elements – get a director! OK, OK, I’ll stop now – and a nice little thriller will hopefully emerge.

Eleanor Lewis
January 2019

Photography by Clariann Productions

From → Drama, Reviews

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