THE TRUTH, London, To May 7

The Truth
By Florian Zeller
In a version by Christopher Hampton

Menier Chocolate Factory to May 7
53 Southwark Street,

Tue – Sat 8pm, matinees Sat and Sun 3.30pm
no perf March 20

Runs: 85 mins without interval

Box Office: 020 7378 1713 (£2.50 transaction fee per booking)
Website: (£1.50 transaction fee per booking)

Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen March 17, 2016:

Universal human frailty turned into an elegant game.
Having scored walloping successes with The Father and The Mother, Florian Zeller’s The Truth, once again adapted by Christopher Hampton, comes as a light, comic relief although its subject of marital infidelity can be as much tragedy as comedy.

But then, where would French farce be without adultery and The Truth is nothing if not a clever little whiz round the gallic national sport of taking a mistress.

Doffing his hat very much at Pinter, as usual with Zeller, it’s not so much an exercise in deceit as an exploration in shape-shifting reality. What you see is not necessarily what you think you see.

It’s like watching an extremely elegant game of tennis – a pastime that Alexander Hanson’s Michel enjoys frequently with best friend Paul – except that whilst one of the players thinks he’s playing singles in fact he’s in a foursome!

Hanson is exquisite as the self-deluding Michel whose moral compass is so skewed that even after exposure guilt sits on him less heavily than outrage at the crimes he feels committed by others, on him, especially his best friend. As with Pinter, male loyalty finds a deeper bond than wife and mistress.

To see Hanson squirming and pitching as one lie after another pours from his lips with the equanimity of the born scoundrel is to watch a master-class of comic timing. So too Portal’s totally inscrutable Paul, making `what’ sound like a whole argument in itself whilst Frances O’Connor as Paul’s wife and Tanya Franks as the seemingly guiltless Laurence, Michel’s unfortunate wife add lustre and affront in equal measure.

Lindsay Posner directs this farrago of untruths with a sure touch and series of sliding doors. One of its major joys is seeing where Zeller differs from Pinter with such similar material. For Pinter, language is a weapon; for Zeller, a tool for exposing human nature – and the truth in any given situation – to be as slippery as an eel.

Only in a French comedy would you find truth-telling described by a character, aka Michel, as selfish and hurtful – words Zeller ensures rebounds back on him in a surprisingly unforeseen way.

Sophisticated fare and entertaining with it.

The Truth
By Florian Zeller
In a version by Christopher Hampton

Alice: Frances O’Connor
Michel: Alexander Hanson
Laurence: Tanya Franks
Paul: Robert Portal

Direction: Lindsay Posner
Design: Lizzie Clachan
Lighting Design: Howard Harrison
Sound Design: Gregory Clarke
Composer: Matthew Scott
Voice & Dialect Coach: Penny Dyer
Associate Director: Lisa Blair

Presented by the Menier Chocolate Factory in association with Theatre Royal Bath.

UK premiere at Menier Chocolate Factory, March 10, 2016. After the Menier runs, plays Theatre Royal Bath, May 9-14, 2016

2016-03-20 12:43:07

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