The Truth (MTC), at Southbank Theatre, The Sumner - 90 minutes
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
A six-month affair with a best mate’s wife is the starting point for a French comedy about deceit, which has been translated into English.
The central focus is businessman Michel (Stephen Curry).
Photos by Jeff Busby
His bestie Paul (Bert LaBonté), with whom he plays tennis, was unceremoniously dumped from his job three weeks ago.
Michel has been with his wife Laurence (Michala Banas) – a teacher – for 20 years.
Their sex life has all but dried up and he is having his way with Paul’s missus Alice (Katrina Milosevic), a doctor.
The pair has weekly afternoon rendezvous in a Paris hotel, but once the deed is done Michel is always keen to up and leave.
Alice wants more, specifically a weekend away with Michel, but when she first puts that to him, he pays no heed.
It is only when she threatens to end the relationship that he changes his tune.
Laurence catches out Michel lying when he tries to explain why he wasn’t at an important meeting with his business partner one particular afternoon.
Michel feigns mock anger that his integrity and love for Laurence are being called into question.
But things escalate from there when Michel and Alice do get away together and she receives a call from Paul, who asks to speak to the aunt she is supposedly visiting.
Lies and alibis abound, before the tangled web becomes ever more tangled.
In other words, matters get decidedly more tense and heated.
Just who is telling the truth and who is seeking vengeance?
I am afraid I wasn’t sold on the play.
I found the opening particularly forced and totally lacking credibility.
In fact, much of it was overplayed.
Perhaps that had to do with the English translation of Florian Zeller’s (The Father) original work by Christopher Hampton.
Maybe it would have gone down better in its original French, due to the subtleties of language.
As it was, there was a certain heavy-handed obviousness about it.
The piece overuses expressions such as “best friend” in an endeavour to be funny, steering away from the less is more philosophy, instead merely serving to irritate.
Overall, I chuckled only occasionally and the ending was flat.
At 90 minutes without interval, The Truth felt stretched.
There wasn’t enough substance or material there to justify such a running time.
The set design by Marg Horwell is relatively simple and lacking the creativity of typical MTC productions.
I thought the best of the performers was Bert LaBonté, his dry sense of humour perfectly pitched.
Stephen Curry tried hard, but it felt like he was trying too hard.
In summary, I left the theatre disappointed at what I regard as MTC’s low point of the season thus far.
Directed by Sarah Giles, The Truth isn’t whip smart and funny like the other MTC show playing at the moment, namely The Lifespan of a Fact.
The former is playing at Southbank Theatre, The Sumner until 17th July and the latter at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne until 10th July, 2021.
I saw the first preview performance of The Truth.