True Love Lies offers quick wit if you can catch it.

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

If you’re looking for ‘in your face’ comedic drama, it doesn’t get better than Alberta Theatre Projects True Love Lies. It’s a story filled with swearing and sex and crude humour, along with a compelling story about family, the nature of love and intriguing characters.

The play opens by introducing the audience to the family. Kane (Dave Kelly), the dad is talking about a great deal at work  while Caroline (Barbara Gates Wilson), the mom gets dinner on the table. Madison (Sarah Koury), is going to look for a job, while Royce (Alexander Plouffe) is going back on his computer. It really does seem like the typical family, filled with busyness and mundane conversation.

But then Madison tries to get hired at a restaurant and gets denied because the owner, David (Réjean Cournoyer), knows her father. She’s annoyed, and announces this to her parents who recognize the name immediately and don’t really want to talk about it. This leads to her probing further and they decide to show that there is nothing to hide and invite him over for dinner. Dinner doesn’t really go badly, but it doesn’t really go well either. Needless to say, to make Caroline mad, David hires Madison. The audience is then run through a series of events that reveal bits and pieces of David and Kane’s prior relationship. They were lovers, who were together before Kane got together with Caroline. The lies that have surrounded Kane’s relationship with David are peeled away. The family careens into this mass of lies and struggle to survive and stay together within the confines of the definition of ‘family’.

True Love Lies is a play in two acts. There are fifty-two scenes in the first act. (Dave Kelly wasn’t lying in his preview with getdown) The play moves fast, at an almost breakneck speed. One scene dissolves into the next and the audience struggles to keep up. The pace of the play isn’t the only thing that’s fast. The lines of dialogue whip by and almost before you’ve heard them the cast has already moved on. It makes for an odd experience. Brad Fraser’s dialogue is quick and full of wit. But the audience will be laughing at one line and will miss the next because the pacing of the play is so fast. There are some true moments of insight and some fine comedic lines of dialogue but it all passes too quickly.

The play slows slightly in the second half. There is a great scene where everyone is fighting and the family is falling apart and Kane, Madison and Royce are smoking outside. Caroline walks up and says, “please tell me you’re not smoking pot with our kids.” It’s ironic and comedic and funny. Caroline then decides to smoke too and everyone is laughing as they all get high, Caroline putting in a hysterical, “what’s it supposed to feel like?”

Upon first examination, it would seem that True Love Lies is about Kane and his family and the mistakes and lies he has built around himself. How he feels about David and his prior relationship and his marriage are all interesting aspects of the play, along with the topic of bisexuality, but the story rings through Madison and Royce. Madison is insecure and has to sleep with the guys she meets when she meets them. She is very public about the details about her life and therefore yours. To that end though, she is a strong, fierce individual who will crudely tell you what you need to know. Her complexity is striking and her manipulation is almost flawless. Koury puts forward an incredibly strong performance, outlining and filling Madison’s strong personality.

Royce is a bright young man. It is illustrated in his description of himself when he says he is ‘an angry outsider with a side of net.’ The play comes to a point of poignancy when Royce goes to his parents for help. Plouffe puts forward an impeccable performance and illustrates Royce’s anger and pain and confusion with a keen precision. He is a young actor brimming with talent.

True Love Lies is a hard hitting, quick, witty play with complex characters. If only it would slow down to allow its audience to take it all in.

True Love Lies runs until October 8th.  Tickets available online or at the door.

Photo Credit: Trudie Lee Photography

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