Split Lip

Kate Young
23rd Sep 2022

When I sat down to write this review, I looked at my notes and the one word that was heavily underlined on the page is brilliant!!! Just one word is all that is needed to describe this masterful performance piece. Word of warning though, you better get ready to strap yourself in because the next 50 minutes is about to be the wildest ride. Through the art of lip-synching, we journey to the darkest recesses of the performer's mind. It will punch you in the gut, have you in tears (both sadness and with laughter) and lend a bosom to cradle you afterward.

Split Lip tells the story of Ginava, a woman who just can't seem to get her head straight! Controlled by the voices inside her head, it’s an internal battle that she’s starting to lose as they start to take over her body... and mouth!

At the beginning of the performance, the audience is transported to a psychologist’s office, a chair front and centre is cloaked with a white hospital gown. A patient, appearing to be in a catatonic state meanders in, clad only in their underwear. As they slowly get dressed and finally turn to face the audience, we find the face staring back at us is somewhat clownish in appearance, surprisingly though even with the amount of makeup on and smeared lipstick is still quite androgynous. As they take a seat a voice is heard. Why are you here? Asks the Doctor and this is where the true magic begins. Through The use of pop culture voiceovers from film and television, Ginava allows other people’s words to tell her story.

Soon the room is flooded with red light and Google chimes in to inform us of the patience diagnoses, it seems Ginava suffers from what is known as dissociative identity disorder, its usually a reaction to trauma as a coping mechanism in order to escape memories of trauma. The brain creates multiple identities, each with a unique name, personal history, and characteristics. Each time this happens we are introduced to a new persona, a slight change in appearance is made using wigs and glasses.

Within the course of the performance we are introduced to four of the personalities. There’s the drug-addled Snort who’s up for anything, teen girl Vapid who has a streak of mean girl, overprotective mother figure God Warrior and the self-deprecating Boiler (Who has one of the most powerful monologues out of the egos. It’s a lip sync to The Specials – The Boiler. It’s a disturbing song that describes a rape in stark detail from the victim's perspective. Its haunting and will stick with you way after you leave) Each of these characters are brought to life with incredibly engaging lip-syncs., that are tied between with soundbites. Ginava moves about the stage as if she’s deranged, talking to herself. Head tilted in the air, ping ponging as each new thought/ clip comes to light. Ginava is an energetic performer – her movements and facials at time are quite manic as she switches from soundbite to soundbite. It’s as If someone has control of the remote and surfing through channels. Here is where the genius lies, you can feel the passion that she puts into each performance, she truly embodies each personality from head to toe.

It is not until we reach the end that we finally hear the voice of the body’s true owner, Blake. As he delivers a self –affirming monologue thanking his protectors but explaining that he now needs to say goodbye if he ever wants a fighting chance at getting better, that in order for him to heal he must live through life’s scars. It is with this realization that we understand that Ginava is in fact the fifth and strongest of all the personalities conjured. It’s a battle that seems to have been blurred, was she really protecting him or stopping their true self from healing.

Split Lip has to be one of the most enjoyable performances I’ve been to in a very long time. The talent it takes to perform an hour long lip-sync and it is not kitschy, being able to hold the audience so tightly held in your fist, is remarkable. Being a pop culture junkie myself, I loved the use of audio chosen (Fear and Loathing, Mean Girls, Clueless, Hereditary, Girl Interrupted, Mummy Dearest.. the list goes on) and much like a magician I waited with anticipation for what they might just pull out of their sound hat next. What better way to tell a story of escapism then the prime medium we all use to do just that?

Ginava is captivating to watch, her face acting is phenomenal and her timing with audio is so spot on you would think she was saying the lines herself. Her portrayal is so convincing at one moment I swear I was looking at Drew Barrymore doing the speech from never been kissed.

I hadn’t heard of Ginava until now and am obsessed, their drag is next level. Its Subversive, full of wit and whimsy (Did you know, not only is she followed by Roisin Murphy aka Moloko on Instagram but has also made costumes for her that she has worn on stage…. fangirl scream) I will be keeping a close eye on what else she does in the future.

You need to go see this, there only three performances left and I truly think that promoting of this show has fallen wayside… cause if everyone knew just how great this show was, you wouldn’t be able to get a ticket to see it.

Split Lip is performing at the Seymour Centre as part of Sydney Fringe Festival 2022