Leper + Chip

Lee Coffey's debut could be the violent child of Enda Walsh's Disco Pigs

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2015

Romeo and Juliet can jog on. Leper and Chip are shooting star-crossed lovers: two Dublin teens racing round the city at full pelt. Live fast, die young, they say. Leper and Chip live faster.

Back in 1997, Enda Walsh smashed the Fringe with his first play, Disco Pigs. Lee Coffey’s debut owes that play a debt. A fizzing two-hander made up of interlocking monologues, it has the same raggedy, turbo-charged energy of teenage lovers careering out of control and into each other.

Nicknamed after their physical deformities (his burned leg, her chipped tooth), Leper and Chip meet in the middle of a melee, a house party that erupts into mass cartoon violence. Call it love at first fight, but when the cops arrive, they scarper in different directions.

In a city like Dublin though, you only ever run into trouble – be that older women and their angry husbands or very bloody debt repayment plans. With every ‘SMACK’ in Coffrey’s script – whether across a face, an arse or a concrete floor – the stage lights up like a fairground. There’s a buzz to violence, after all.

It’s the characters you fall for though: Conall Keating’s tyro lothario Leper and Amilia Clarke-Stewart’s scrappy-go-lucky Chip. Even if Karl Shiels’ drama-blacks approach robs the characters of their reality, the two actors fizz like indoor fireworks.

It’s a Pro-Plus play though, all narrative momentum and tumble-turns of phrase, that misses the melancholy of Disco Pigs. Still, Coffey’s a talent: he writes in graphic novel high-definition and captures all the headrush of youth.