Faye can’t sleep, we learn at the outset of Ciara Elizabeth Smyth’s dark and absurd comedy Lie Low. She’s not sure why, she insists to her ineffectual male GP, met here in celestial voiceover only – yes, a year ago she was the victim of a break-in where she awoke to a masked male standing over her and exposing himself, but she’s over that now.
As we quickly learn, though, it’s difficult to get over such experiences so easily or indeed to make sense of them at all amidst contested narratives and the fallibility of memory. These are the themes at the heart of Lie Low, which pitches itself as a play about a woman undergoing exposure therapy but in fact plays out as an exploration of sexual assault, trauma, consent and the grey areas between and around each.
This is brave subject matter, and it is handled confidently in both Smyth’s writing and the performances of lead actors Charlotte McCurry and Michael Patrick. McCurry in particular displays impressive range, her character careering between high-energy fantastical dance sequences, bloody-minded denial and heart-wrenching desperation. Patrick’s portrayal of Faye’s brother Naoise, grappling, as the audience comes to learn, with his own ruinous secret, is skilful in its nuance – is he to be believed? Does he believe what he is saying?
The result is that Lie Low is at the same time funny, surreal and deeply unsettling. Unafraid to sit with ambiguity and uncertainty, this gripping play will stay with audiences long beyond its 65 minute run time.