The Truth review of this new drama at the Menier Chocolate Factory
The Menier, who typically have found far more success with musicals than they do with plays (let's try to forget Dinner with Saddam, one of the worst new plays of last year, if not the worst), have come up with a gently disquieting, sharply observed new play about the nature of lies and truth. The Truth revolves around a man (Alex Hanson) who is cheating on his wife (Tanya Franks) and his best friend (Robert Portal) by having a six-month affair with the friend's wife (Frances O'Connor), and is himself suddenly stunned, and bizarrely affronted, when he discovers that they've all been lying to him, too in turn.
Playwright Florence Zeller — also recently responsible for The Father and The Mother, making him suddenly one of the most prolific writers on the London stage — forensically excavates beneath the surface of the multiple deceits being played out here to expose how easily it can all unravel as one lie leads to another... and another, as betrayals multiply and comes unstoppable.
This smart, funny and bracing play is brilliantly observed, and still more brilliantly played by its accomplished cast of four. It's sometimes painful to watch it is so acutely and astutely played — you squirm for as well as with the characters in turn — not least during a phone call from the cuckolded spouse to his cheating wife when she's supposedly visiting an aged aunt, and her male lover has to feebly pretend to be the aunt.
It's just one of many samplings of lies being maintained, manipulated and ruthlessly exposed. It's not pretty, but it makes for riveting theatre. And in director Lindsay Posner's crisp production, the constantly shifting tensions are minutely maintained by magnificent ensemble. A West End transfer is surely on the cards.