“Simple story-telling at its absolute finest”
Sometimes the best thing to do with a play is to keep it utterly, utterly simple. Leper + Chip did just that with astonishing effectiveness.
As the audience enters, the two actors are alone on stage, pacing, as if gearing up for a fight. When the house lights dim, what follows is a high octane, turbo-charged, non-stop pummelling of drama, from two fine young actors.
The play follows 24 hours in the life of two young people from different sides of Dublin. They meet by chance at a party and their two social groups end up in a full-on brawl. The next day is a mad-dash tale of pursuit and rivalry as Leper and Chip try to come to terms with the previous evening’s actions.
It is structured as two interweaving monologues, enabling us to see both sides of the story from the night of their meeting. Each frank account goes on to introduce other friends and acquaintances, who, from just a few lines, seem as real as the actors on stage. As the story unfolds, we’re taken through feelings of pride, guilt, anger and desperation, all against a backdrop of the grittier side of Dublin.
The actors are alone on stage the whole time, with no set, props or complex effects to aid the story telling. The piece is driven completely by the energy and expression of Leper (played by Conall Keating) and Chip (Amilia Clarke Stewart), whose chemistry and personalities complement each other perfectly.
Leper is a real “lad” who thinks nothing of downing countless shots and hitting on older women for fun, while Chip is a feisty wee girl with a distinctly challenging home life. Both characters are incredibly likeable despite their many imperfections: their honesty and heart-on-your-sleeve attitude, which drive some of the more tragic consequences, make them true anti-heroes.
It really is a pacey piece that’s full of drama, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout. The quality of the writing (and directing) was such that the play didn’t seem like it was written at all – indeed, the words fell out of the actors mouths so easily that it really felt like it was a true, if at times a little far-fetched, story. It has clearly been very well rehearsed and never once felt staged or unnatural.
Although at times just a little rough around the edges, these were two heroic performances – full of energy, conviction and real sensitivity to every aspect of the individual characters. Simple story-telling at its absolute finest.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 8 August)
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