StageScan Pick: The Truth

A range of positive pro responses averaging 4 stars, greeted Florian Zeller’s The Truth at Menier Chocolate Factory.

”Like The Father and The Mother,” observed Michael Billington (Guardian), it “plays games with reality”. Andrzej Lukowski (Time Out) praised “a lean, deft piece of writing”, also observing a similar “taut, twisting structure” with “seven rapid-fire scenes, each radically altering our impression of what exactly is going on”. Paul Taylor (Independent) was among several noting “its overt and perhaps excessive indebtedness to Pinter’s Betrayal” but Libby Purves (TheatreCat), one of the five-star reviewers, described ”a punch-in-the-guts, cruelly affectionate, whip-smart ninety-minute treat” which she found “halfway to farce” but without “farce’s crassness”.

Taylor found it “wittily translated” by Christopher Hampton and, like most, enjoyed Lindsay Posner’s “elegantly astringent” production. Billington observed in the design “a chic austerity that seems peculiarly Parisian”.

All agreed with Lukowski that it’s “well-acted”. Purves enjoyed “a particularly fine depiction of alpha-male pride and panic by Alexander Hanson” who “rattles in increasing unease”. Billington hailed “an outstanding performance” which Taylor found “hilariously squirm-making”.

Billington praised “staunch support” from the other three actors. Purves enjoyed Robert Portal’s “unnerving deadpan” and Taylor found him “excellent” as the best friend playing “lethally sly power games” with Hanson’s Michel.

Taylor summed up “a sophisticated dissection of marital hypocrisies and a comic, coolly knowing challenge to the credo that honesty is the best policy”. Billington thought the play “civilised, witty and sophisticated… about the mechanics of adultery, the viral nature of deception and deep-seated male hypocrisy” but found it “slightly airless” failing to “match the pain or passion of Pinter”.

But Lukowski enjoyed a “Tart, zingy and cheerily amoral… satire on the male ego” examining how “lies and denial can form a (not always unhealthy) bedrock to our realities” yet “also very funny and totally unafraid of silliness” and Purves hailed “a virtuoso display of zinging lines” and “laughingly cruel perceptions” nevertheless “never far from… real pain: real love, real betrayal” and judged its blend of comedy and tragedy “very classy”.

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