Attribution/author:Article by: Susan Mansfield

Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd direct stylish, sensitive true story adap for Edinburgh Festival Fringe

In 2000, four women died in a house in Leixlip, near Dublin. An elderly aunt and her three nieces starved themselves to death in what appeared to be a suicide pact. Little is known about why they did it.

There is simply not enough information to create a documentary play about the story, and Irish company Dead Centre, under the direction of Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd, does almost the opposite. Their stylish, sensitive production doesn't attempt to put words in the women’s mouths or offer a cut-and-dried explanation, rather it reminds us how difficult it is understand another person, and, therefore, how inappropriate it is to judge them.

The lengthy opening section is a discussion of lip-reading, a nuanced and inexact art, as humorous YouTube clips testify. Lip Reader (Dan Reardon) then becomes our conduit into the Leixlip house, a compassionate observer who has already warned us how flawed his conclusions might be.

With respect and sensitivity, Moukarzel, Kidd and screenwriter Mark O’Halloran gradually spiral closer to the events in question. Words are lost, broken or drowned out until, finally, one of the women is given a voice in a fractured masterpiece of a monologue. By then, we know not to expect answers, but to listen with compassion and hope to understand.

Traverse Theatre, 0131 228 1404, until 24 Aug (not 11, 18), £19 (£14).

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