Has anyone else had difficulty getting back into their theatregoing after the results of the EU Referendum? The two – excellent – plays I have managed to see since the UK voted to leave on 23 June, have both, in a strange way, deepened my Brexit despair too.
Neither Florian Zeller‘s The Truth nor Faith Healer by the late Brian Friel have anything to do with politics, per se, but both deal in lies and fictions, misguided loyalties and self-harm – for me, hallmarks of the electorate’s fatally flawed decision to take us out of the 40-year union with our closest allies and neighbours.
The fact that the plays were written by, respectively, a Frenchman and an Irishman, who we’ll no longer be able to refer to as fellow citizens, makes me even sadder.
I’ve gathered below a few quotes from each play that seem to capture the national malaise post-Brexit (and post-Chilcot today for that matter) – and some that are just great quotes – plus an extra quote from Jesse Eisenberg‘s The Spoils, which I’ve previously shared and seems more relevant than ever. (What does American Eisenberg think of what’s going on in London while he’s visiting, I wonder?)
But don’t let such associations deter you. I highly recommend both plays.
If you saw Zeller’s The Mother and The Father, you may be surprised but not disappointed by The Truth, which has transferred to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre direct from its UK premiere season at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Unlike the earlier plays, The Truth is told in straightforward, linear fashion, but it too leaves you wondering which characters, which version of events, can be trusted. Also unlike The Mother and The Father, it’s very very funny. And Alexander Hanson is hilarious as the adulterer-in-chief flitting between his wife (Tanya Franks), his lover (Frances O’Connor) and her husband (Robert Portal), who also happens to be his best friend. Lindsay Posner directs.
Gina McKee, who starred in Zeller’s The Mother, now provides the devastatingly fragile central plank in Lyndsey Turner‘s rain-soaked revival of Friel’s three-hander Faith Healer (wall of water care of Turner’s long-time collaborator, designer Es Devlin). Astonishing performances too, in a series of solo scenes, from Stephen Dillane as the chancing title character and, for light cockney relief, Ron Cook as his tour booker.