The Truth at Wyndham’s TheatreCultureTheatre
French playwright Florian Zeller immediately established himself as one of the most exciting dramatists on the scene when his play The Father debuted in the UK a year and a half ago. His works are characterised by an interest in the volatility of reality and his desire to leave the audience constantly doubting and questioning what they see. He knows, and wants to convey, the fact that a person can never see the full picture of any situation but must work with one clue or piece of information at a time, condemned to an always limited range of vision.
The Truth is the story of two couples bound to one another by intricately tangled ties. Adultery is the central theme, but in terms of action nothing much actually happens. The play’s success relies entirely on the way it is told: giving away enough information to shape a truth, and immediately thereafter introducing a detail that puts the whole into question. The story begins with a secret encounter between Alice and Michel in a hotel room. It soon transpires that Alice’s husband, Paul, is Michel’s best friend. Meanwhile, Michel’s wife Laurence seems to be on the brink of discovering the affair.
The set is sober, sleek and predominantly white. It sets the scene without distracting in any way. Similarly, the quartet of protagonists perfectly impersonate the wounded and conniving characters while allowing the narrative itself to be the star of the show. Translated from French and adapted by Christopher Hampton, the language is simple and the dialogues sharp and carefully crafted so as to reveal enough to engage yet too little to give away the mystery. There is no room for distraction as the intriguing revelations play out in a single act, one tragicomical dialogue after the other.
Clean, elegant and incredibly effective, The Truth is not just enjoyable on the surface. The play’s deceiving simplicity hides a series of interesting notions about the elusiveness of so-called facts. It is implied that no matter how clear it may seem, the truth always rests on shaky foundations. Facts are sometimes multi-layered, constantly evolving situations that look different from each and every angle. What is called a truth must inevitably pass through the filter of personal perspective, at which point it loses shape and can become a mere interpretation.
Zeller’s deconstruction of reality and theatrical expectations has proven to be the winning element in his previous works, and on this occasion he continues the trend with often hilarious results. This play confirms his talent for delighting, bewildering and absolutely charming the audience.
The Truth is on at Wyndham’s Theatre from 22nd June until 3rd September 2016. Book your tickets here.