The Moment of Truth at Southwark Playhouse
The Southwark Playhouse is hosting the first professional UK revival of Peter Ustinov’s The Moment of Truth since 1951. Given the play’s central themes of war, propaganda and the mechanics of toppling governments, this relatively forgotten script is particularly poignant in light of the Arab Spring and the current conflicts in Syria. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell if the script (unlike most of Ustinov’s masterful work) has been abandoned by the stage for a reason, or if it was the cast and their performances which failed to bring it to life with sufficient depth, clarity and sincerity. In any event, this New Actors Company production was largely weak, quite boring and, considering the cast, surprisingly amateurish.
The play starts off well in the opening act, but quickly dissolves into a slow, muddled and poorly executed exploration of the aftermath of armed conflict, political negotiation and our conceptions of truth, which conjured none of the provocation for which Ustinov is famed. Sadly, Bonnie Wright’s (of Harry Potter fame) transition from screen to stage may be regrettable; her role as The Girl was little more than a contrived stereotype of a strong woman falling from power, and the Nurse (Toni Kanal) was merely a one dimensional plot device and therefore inspired no empathy or indeed any reaction other than the occasional chuckle. The play’s failings were evidenced by the audience’s response, which was to shuffle, yawn, flick through the brochure and even sleep throughout the performance, followed by embarrassingly mild applause considering this was opening night.
Overall, in its current format, this production of The Moment of Truth is simply not worth seeing or paying for, and does not come close to meeting the standards usually expected of a Ustinov play.
The Moment of Truth is on at the Southwark Playhouse until 20th July 2013, for further information or to book visit here.