The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing…

SRT’s production of The Truth is for real.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

Oscar Wilde NEWSFLASH – relationships are puzzles; always shifting, beguiling and slinking around the margins of our understanding. Drawn in by tricksters of circumstance, we engage with others thinking we know the truth behind our words and actions, but we don’t. We think we do. We don’t.

Oh, you knew? You’ve tricked and been tricked? You’re human? Welcome to the labyrinth.

Singapore Repertory Theatre’s production of Florian Zeller’s The Truth delves into the depths of the murky miasma of marriage and mating. Along the way, characters discover disconcerting truths about others and themselves. They hurt and are hurt. Their travels through the labyrinth are borne along by a pitch-perfect cast, an ingenious design, and directorial pacing that somehow finds the humor in humans caught in the human condition. For all its dark themes, The Truth is funny; painfully so, at times. The Truth is told in four voices.

As Alice, the ‘other woman’ Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie uses her character to explore the nuances of infidelity and the chaos it sometimes launches. We first see her in bed, post-coital. Shocked, Dear readers? Don’t be, she has clothes on and the situation is presented from an adult, self-assured viewpoint. She’s a bit miffed that her partner, Michael, is more in a hurry to get to his business meeting that he is concerned about the niceties of bidding goodbye. Sexy, but never vulnerable, MacQuarrie presents a sophisticated 21st-century young woman presented with guilt but never wracked by it. When she tells Michael that she has qualms about their relationship, and might think about ending it, she is telling the truth. Or is she?

SRT presents The Truth (Lim Yu-Beng & Neo Swee Lin)

Her husband, Paul (Vivek Gomber), Michael’s best friend and weekly tennis competitor, is in the background until we meet him, post-tennis, in the locker room with Michael. Paul is temporarily, he hopes, unemployed and usually (although NOT today) a loser to Michael in the weekly encounters on the court. It’s clear that he is worried about his unemployment and, consequently, his marriage. He has a sneaky feeling that Alice may not be as loyal to their marriage as he has come to expect. Paul is not shy in sharing his suspicions and emotions with Paul, his BFF. he comes to greater prominence as the play progresses. Vivek Gomber takes what could easily be a “poor me” character and slowly, but ever so surely transforms him into a fully-fledged character with as much gumption as those with whom he shares this stage of his life. Granted his superficial vulnerability, he strives to tell the truth. Or does he?

Subtly played and, like Paul, gradually transformative is Lauren (No Swee Lin). Speaking of vulnerabilities, she comes on as full of them and out of control of her marriage to her high-flying, super-kinetic husband, Michael. She is more sinned against than sinning it seems, but director Ng Choon Pan sees the potential strength of her personality and lets it slowly evolve into a force on the stage that must be reckoned with – by Michael and the audience. Without being a spoiler, I’ll just point to the very last scene of the play when, wordlessly, Neo Swee Lin, through body language and facial control, presents a character change in sixty seconds that might take a lesser actor a scene or two. Finally, the truth.
At least, I think it is.

As Michael, Lim Yu-Beng gives a bravura performance. That IS the truth. He is the backbone of every scene, every moment of the play. He’s even on stage for the scene changes, for Goodness Sakes! Given his central role, he interacts with his mistress, her husband, and his wife dozens of times in the 90-minute performance and doesn’t miss a proverbial beat. Self-assured, even cocky at first, he swaggers on the stage confident that, although he is playing a dangerous game, he can pull it off without hurting others and without giving up an iota of his substantial self-respect. We, the audience, are in the midst of an intricate braid of dramatic irony. Lim Yu-Beng is caught in the web of it all. Like the spider’s victim, he thrashes on a ladder in Paul’s presence after too many whiskeys in the play’s denouement. He writhes and reels trying to sort out the multitudinous versions of the truth in which he’s become entangled. He longs for the truth. Or does he?

Sets, costumes, lighting, and sound by Petrina Dawn Tan, Leonard Augustine Choo, E-hui Woo, and Elim Lew add depth, ingenuity, charm and a professional level of accomplishment to The Truth. has extolled SRT in these pages before, but honestly, this is a performance NOT to be missed.

Believe me!

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