TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE by Graham Isador, Rhiannon Archer, Helder Brum and Jillian Welsh (Presgang Theatre/Next Stage). Antechamber. January 6 at 8:40 pm, January 7 at 7:40 pm, January 8 at 5:40 pm, January 9 at 8:25 pm, January 10 at 7:55 pm, January 11 at 5:55 pm, January 12 at 8:40 pm, January 13 at 6:40 pm, January 14 at 5:40 pm, January 15 at 4:25 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Much of good storytelling is about presenting convincing details and emotional truths.
So the idea of Two Truths And A Lie is intriguing. In 30 minutes, three performers tell us stories; one of them is entirely made up. Can an audience detect, not just through a tale’s details but also in a storyteller’s demeanour, who’s telling the truth and who isn’t?
On the show’s Next Stage opening night, I was the lucky patron chosen to judge who was lying.
There was stand-up Rhiannon Archer’s tale of how acting in a grade school play in which she had a bit part led to her permanently disfigured wrist; there was comic and host Helder Brum’s story about a workplace accident, a colonoscopy and one embarrassing extended fart; and finally there was Presgang Theatre’s Graham Isador recounting a story about how, in his youth, he found out his girlfriend was cheating on him.
Each performer has a distinct style and energy: Archer savvy and all-knowing, Brum genial and upbeat, Isador moody and quietly menacing.
When I chose who was lying (rightly, it turns out), it was because I felt the performer was embellishing where things didn’t need embellishing, trying to get quick laughs when the emotional truth of a moment should have sufficed.
I’ve been told the three performers (Jillian Welsh joins them on January 13 to 15) will repeat the stories at each show. That’s a shame. I’d love to watch these people tell different stories, alternating to see who can convincingly build worlds that sound true but aren’t.