People in the UK may have had enough of ghastly people who lie, deceive, betray, plot and do awful things behind so-called friend’s backs. This might make The Truth the worst possible time to pop up in the West End or it may possibly be entirely the opposite. Apposite and timely.
Michel (Alexander Hanson) is married to
Samantha Bond the enigmatic Laurence (Tanya Franks) but he’s having a regular bit on the side with Alice (Frances O’Connor) when he’s not losing a sock or telling porkies to his wife. Trouble is Alice also happens to be the wife of Michel’s best friend Paul (Robert Portal). And that’s about all you really need to know as what follows is a slew of revelations about who knows what, who is lying and who thinks they are in full possession of the facts.
Florian Zeller (The Father) does ‘clever’ rather well. This piece has more twists than the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide. Almost too many. Once you realise the frequency they occur you’ll start trying to guess what the next one will be. Often successfully. Sometimes it’s very funny, a tennis-related revelation is laugh-out-loud hilarious when delivered by the brilliantly deadpanning Portal. Hanson’s outrage and bluster is initially very funny, but when he repeatedly turns things back on everyone else, defensively making himself the victim, he becomes increasingly irritating. Presumably that’s deliberate, but it’s hard to sympathise with him or anyone in this play. One might say that at least the one couple isn’t spoiling another couple. But of course they are.
The dialogue (translation Christopher Hampton) flips between the sharply comic and the annoying. They’re meant to be French so we shouldn’t be surprised they talk about “making love” but when they address each other why do they have to keep inserting that person’s name? Do people do this? Didn’t sound entirely believable to us. The scene where Michel is on the phone pretending to be his lover’s aunt feels too contrived and ridiculous to be funny. And ultimately didn’t quite make sense.
Lindsay Posner‘s crisp production whips through the often farcical events in 90 minutes so there’s barely time to dwell on its misgivings, though somehow we managed to quite successfully.
But which rating should you believe?