Reviewed by James Karas
Mr. Truth, created and performed by Lauren Gillis and Alaine Hutton, is experimental theatre. That means what you see could be unusual, unexpected, bewildering, confusing or simply incomprehensible. Mr. Truth has all these attributes and perhaps more. I did say incomprehensible?
The show starts with some music and one of the performers running around the stage and among the audience in the tiny BMO Incubator rallying us to get involved. She repeats phrases like “Are you ready to have fun?” and tells a couple not particularly funny jokes which are received with ecstatic guffaws by some in the audience.
On a large screen we see some women running in a forest for a couple of minutes. Gillis and Hutton appear and we are treated to a lengthy illustrated lecture on masturbation. We get an almost clinical description of clitoral stimulation by one of the performers while she is performing the act on the other one (Sorry, I don’t know who is who). The actual site being stimulated is judiciously hidden from the crowd but the description is quite vivid and detailed.
Sex dominates the play in various descriptive forms from dream sequences (which I did not get) to the sado-masochistic which I understood better. The two performers take on a large array of characters both male and female and they display highly developed acting techniques and an ability to jump from one characterization to the next. You may want to complain that the characters that they take on are neither developed nor understood and even in a seventy-minute show you are hard pressed to remember much of what is happening or who is who.
But the all-pervasive sex with suitable raunchy language does stay with you.
We see a tall person in a black cape with a white hoodie and hollow black face walk across the stage. I don’t know what provokes him or what his presence indicates. Presumably he is Mr. Truth and I have no idea why he is not Ms Truth or perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Truth.
The dream sequences are illustrated with what looks like an electrocardiograph on the screen and I am not sure what the squiggles on it meant, if anything.
As I said, a few members of the audience reacted enthusiastically and laughed with unalloyed exuberance at the beginning on lines that were devoid of comedy. That is pretty much expected from some people on opening night and you wait to see how much stamina they have to maintain their vigour. By the end of Mr. Truth even the most enthusiastic had petered out into almost complete (and blessed) silence.
After writing this I read the Creators’ Note in the programme which bears repeating:
If someone told you that this show was structured rhythmically and dramaturgically to resemble a female orgasm, or a woman’s orgasm, or a feminine orgasm, or any orgasm of the non-aristotelian variety, would that change your viewing experience?
I don’t know the differences among a female, a woman’s and feminine orgasm let alone the rhythm or dramaturgical structure of an orgasm.
I stand by what I said in my first paragraph and wonder how many attributes I missed. That is the whole point of experimental theatre.
Mr. Truth is part of the 2018 Riser Project that includes Tell Me What It’s Called, Speaking of Sneaking and Everything I Couldn’t Tell You.
Mr. Truth, created and performed by Lauren Gillis and Alaine Hutton continues until November 24, 2018 at The Theatre Centre, BMO Incubator, 1115 Queen St. West, Toronto, Ontario. www.theatrecentre.org.