The Truth is the latest export from the Menier Chocolate Factory, a venue now garnering a solid and resounding reputation for producing genre-defining and groundbreaking work. Indeed, this latest show at its new home at the Wyndham certainly maintains this trend, providing 90 minutes of uproarious domestic comedy penned by the now reputed Florian Zeller.
Zeller has become something of a West End (and now Broadway) darling – his Kenneth Graham-starring The Father gathering critical and popular praise on this side of the Pond before finding State-side Tony success. The Truth, perhaps lacking the vitality of The Father, is a much more tame piece in comparison – routed, through design by Lizzie Clachan (responsible for the awe-inspiring Treasure Island a few years back) in a monochromatic, affluent setting. In a world where nothing is black and white, the irony is here that, of course, everything looks black and white.
Aesthetics aside, Zeller has, in The Truth, crafted a slowly winding comedic whimsy with a sublime execution. Two couples, riddled by questions of infidelity and treachery, gradually start to sink deeper into their own lies and hypocrisies, unable to find that titular concept that they claim to treasure so dearly. In a brisk 90 minute time the audience are brought to a climactic roar of laughter – this is certainly a crowdpleaser for the West End frequenter.
Zeller is incredibly good at producing incredibly orthodox theatre, and The Truth is the epitome of this – we are never left bored, or frustrated, as the show progresses. But equally this is by no means groundbreaking – shows have depicted infidelity and an aspiration towards the truth with far more inventiveness before. The domestic drama is entirely toothless, the stakes never feel all that high.
There are good turns from the cast, all delivering solidly well timed performances under the guidance of director Lindsay Posner. Alexander Hanson, in the central and perhaps most vital role of Michelle, guided the show through the stages of hilarity, with a commanding vulnerability – here was a rather flawed man guided exclusively by his own passions at the expense of any hyper rational attempt to conceal his deceit. The performance contorted audience expectations, twisting and manipulating them at every turn, even with a rather predictable main twist. There were most certainly laughs to be had during the show, but The Truth seemed to lack a depth that could have perhaps been exploited during these times – every emotional turn inevitably ending in a laugh and any sense of social depth eschewed for the sake of convenience.