Arts Review: Gigantic Lying Mouth

Tron Theatre, 15/02/19

As a one-man show, Gigantic Lying Mouth is both self-deprecating and self-referential: it is written by Kevin P. Gilday, for Kevin P. Gilday about Kevin P. Gilday. The format allows the writer and actor to represent a selfish version of himself, a poet who thinks poetry slams are for selfish people whom he nevertheless wants to outdo; who thinks, if he has enough time, he can write a masterpiece; and who hopes that he can in some way leave a mark on the world. The last two become impossible when he dies in a yoga accident, an anticlimactic death for a less-than-spectacular life.

His death is, quite literally, just the beginning. When he reaches the other side, he finds Death to have become privatised, and is put through to Lazarus, a transcendent voice working in a call centre, who sends Kevin to Hell rather than Purgatory – she has already reached her quota for the former. The intermingling of death and comedy create a wonderfully dark cynicism aimed especially at a Glaswegian audience: when Kevin is allowed to view Heaven for a day, he finds it to be a small Scottish pub with endless free alcohol; when he goes through the circles of Hell to reach Purgatory, it turns out to resemble Edinburgh, except he cannot flee Purgatory by bus.

While the play overuses metafictional humour, even to the point of being self-reflexive about being self-reflexive, it is still an entertainingly grim look at what it means to be a performer, and what the art of performing should mean to performers and audiences alike. The play’s experimental incorporation of poetry and multimedia technology, meanwhile, is seamless enough that it easily jumps from one medium to another, something which is helped by Gilday’s boundless energy and charisma. While one of the predominant themes of the play is to show how we are all liars, what makes Gilday’s performance both disturbing and disquieting is how real he appears, particularly how similar his ambitions are to our own, and how pointless a concept life is for him to worry about. Especially when he is dead.

[Liam Caldwell]

[Image credit: Tron Theatre]

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