Review by Siofra Ni Shluaghadháin
Lex Talionis translates from the Latin as “the law of retaliation, whereby a punishment resembles the offence committed in kind and degree”. In layman’s terms, an eye for an eye. The Wandering Star Theatre Company brings what is perhaps the strangest play to this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival, and it is one that is worth talking about.
Lex Talionis is a play about birds. Not women, but bona fide, wings flapping, feathered birds. It examines a feud between Rooks and Magpies, and through the lens of this absurdist revenge plot, it is telling of a lot of modern human issues. The futility of vengeance, racism, and the primal desire to look out for one’s own kind are thematically important to this play. Crucially, this is a play which plays on, and ultimately delivers with, the strength of its actors. Aisling McCarthy, Sinéad Donnelly, Sinéad McGee and Bláithín MacGabhann give each of their characters depth and believability which allow for the suspension of disbelief in this performance. Throughout Lex Talionis, it doesn’t matter that these women are portraying birds; in terms of characterisation, the audience needs little enticement to be invested.
Due to the strength of the script (written by Liam Heylin), direction (Katrina Foley) and the aforementioned acting, this production is an excellent example of how theatre can speak for itself, without the need for gimmicks or expense. The production made excellent use of the space in The Boys’ School, employing every inch of space from the slanted balconies, the stage itself, and the space behind the lit church windows (an often under-utilised part of that venue).
All in all, Lex Talionis provided the acting and production staff of Wandering Star Theatre Company with an excellent way to showcase some of the wonderful talent at their disposal.