Direction: Ross Jolly (written by Florian Zeller; translated by Christopher Hampton)
Circa Theatre; Circa One (April 7 – May 5)
The Lie is the latest by the brilliant French novelist and playwright Florian Zeller. Here, again, translated by Christopher Hampton and directed for Circa by Ross Jolly – as was the case, last year with an amazing production of The Father (also by Zeller). Returning from that cast we have Gavin Rutherford (as Paul) and Bronwyn Turei (as Laurence). They’re joined by here by Claire Dougan (Alice) and Andrew Foster (Michel – also the set-designer for this production).
Paul and Alice are hosting a dinner party. We’re in their lounge – that’s the scene for the whole show. We are whisked into this world, given just enough background. For this is a play about words as much as it’s ever about actions – words, and convictions, and the self-interest that comes attached to moral attitudes.
You see Alice has spotted Michel kissing another woman. And Michel is Paul’s best friend. And now Alice doesn’t really want to host a dinner party. Laurence is not just Michel’s wife, she’s Alice’s friend. Paul thinks they should just go on ahead. And so they do. But that’s just the starting point.
The evening struggles on and then we’re left with an aftermath that stops short at directly referencing Edward Albee’s great Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but – tonally – takes us there, or to the post-modern version of there.
If a lie is the opposite of truth then does that mean that – sometimes – if the truth hurts then a lie can be the salve? That’s the rumination here. That’s the deep meditation. But it cuts deep. And it hurts. This is not just dark night of the soul stuff, it’s a compelling ballet of words – Dougan and Rutherford do the lion’s share (they lying share?) of the work. Turei and Foster are very good in support. It’s a play that dazzles because of the words, first, foremost. But here the clever set, the strong direction, subtle choices and wonderful acting is what allows this script to crackle. There’s pure fire here. It’s potent. It burns bright. There’s huge heat. You’ll think about this long after its eventual ending.
A quite brilliant effort from all involved.
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