lippyLippy is the terrifying reconstruction of four women’s final days after making a suicide pact, and one man’s attempt to find out what occurred after they shut themselves inside their home, barricaded themselves in and starved themselves to death.

At first, an amusing but innocuous post-show Q&A takes place, with one of the actors having a fairly pedestrian discussion about lip reading, the subject of the play we are supposed to have just seen. So far, so normal. But before long things take a very abrupt turn in the opposite direction.

We learn that the actor is also a lip reader who assisted the police in an investigation after four women were found lifeless and emaciated, locked inside their apartment. What follows is a nightmarish rebuilding of what may or may not have happened in the days leading up to their death, when the only real information anyone has to go on is a soundless CCTV clip.

Lippy disconcertingly separates image and sound, removing the voice from the body in the ways we are used to experiencing it. The sound effects are often incongruous or even just out of sync with their accompanying movement, and it seems more fitting to give directors Ben Kidd and Bush Moukarzel the benefit of the doubt and assume that this was intentional. Either way, it’s effective. That being said, there are other moments where the lip-syncing is so good that it’s uncanny.

With its low, ominous rumbling and flashing strobe lights, Lippy is at times truly frightening: surreal in a creepy, uncomfortable kind of way. With this part of the play much less linear and with much less accessible dialogue, we have to rely on imagery to try to piece together what exactly is going on, interpreting symbolism in a desperate attempt to uncover the truth. It’s a clever parallel to the way in which lip reading can offer many contrasting interpretations when what truly occurred may never be known.

Stunning, bizarre and frustratingly mysterious, Dead Centre theatre company has created an enigma that’s beautiful to behold, but much harder to unravel.

Lippy plays at the Traverse Theatre until 24 August 2014. For tickets and more information, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.