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Directed by Romana Testasecca
Written by Tom Moran
Starring Danielle Galligan and Tom Moran
In my reviews I enjoy building a good preamble, opening with a story or an anecdote from my own experience, trying to add what I suppose is an attempt at depth. It’s just something I do, a little investment of myself in how I view or understand what I have just seen. I will refrain on this occasion as I don’t want to waste your time talking about me, I would rather talk about Romana Testasecca, Danielle Galligan and Tom Moran.
Lyrics is a beautifully crafted play, from the minimal set design, to the lighting and of course the acting. Tom Moran, also the playwright, brings a shy, tender and almost melancholy awkwardness to the character of “Him”, a piano playing singer at the tail end of an open mic night somewhere in Dublin City, who is nursing a broken heart. Opening with a soft piano number, Him finds himself drawn to a singer, “Her”, played with an enviable sense of self-assuredness but also touches of vulnerability by the very talented Danielle Galligan. Her is dealing with her own form of heartache, something she struggles with from the opening moments to the very last. Where Him drives the play forward with his bumbling and often rambling attempts at keeping the conversation going between them, it is Her that keeps it interesting, feeding his blatantly obvious affection for her while at the same time keeping him very much at a distance. It is this balance, this give and take between the two of them, that makes Lyrics such an interesting and enormously enjoyable play.
The dialogue, sharp and extremely witty in places, is non-stop. Neither character seems interested in taking a break, Him most definitely not interested in taking even a breath so frightened is he that if he stops she will just leave. Speaking at break neck pace, the tête-à-tête between them is so well choreographed it seems like a duel or a joust, as if they are fencers trading parries and engagements. And it is captivating to watch, creating a natural rhythm that pulls the audience along and immediately makes you care for these two characters, both of whom over the course of the 60 odd minutes you share in their company, share their own escapades and heartbreaks, some extremely comic and some tender, lonesome but ultimately honest. It is the honesty that will really take you aback, moments which pepper the back and forth dialogue and bring a little focus to just who these two characters are. And that is the beauty of Lyrics, the characters written by Tom Moran are immediately relatable. There’s a little bit of you and me in each of them, there is cringe and there is heart but yes there is love also.
In Lyrics, Romana Testasecca has created something that is both simple and complex. Using the minimal stage furniture to significant effect, she blocks the actors is such a way that lends itself to understanding just how the characters change and evolve over the course of their hour together. Their movements wonderfully contrast their rapid-fire dialogue, with both actors occupying sections of the stage for minutes at a time without moving. The delivery is near flawless, Testasecca allowing them just enough time to let a punch land before marching on to the next. My one criticism would be that it could do with a little broader or looser sense of pacing between certain sections of dialogue – some of the blocks of incredibly funny conversation could do with a natural lull which does not occur in Lyrics. But this is a minor quibble, it really is. The lighting is very interesting also as The Theatre Upstairs is a small performance space with some limited visibility seating. Whether by accident or by design, Testasecca gets around this by placing lights that throw shadows of the actors across the back wall so that even if you can’t see Him or Her, you will always see their shadow. It’s a beautiful little touch.
Lyrics is a wonderfully crafted piece of theatre, it is tender and heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measure. The few musical numbers are funny and fitting, they will make you laugh and think, and if by the end you haven’t found yourself captivated by the innocent shyness of Him and the cocky yet playful stubbornness of Her then maybe you should see a doctor as Lyrics will have you feeling all the feels by the time the lights go down. Thoroughly recommended.
Lyrics runs in the Theatre Upstairs on Eden Quay until Saturday the 14th of April.
Tickets available HERE