Review: The Lies at Alphabetti Theatre
The Lies by Degna Stone – Alphabetti Theatre
24th May 2023
On entering the stage area, you are greeted by a dishevelled dining area where there are newspapers scattered throughout. Indeed, the table itself is also decorated with front pages of newspapers which signifies the things we believe to be true. The audience in then given definitions of truth with accompanying newsreels – this slightly disconcerts the viewer as I am sure was the intent. There is also imagery of water dripping to make a bigger and much more destructive body of water before Degna Stone themself enters in the role of Leah, a clearly distressed woman who has had an altercation with her daughter Angel prior to the action taking place and the latter has stomped out of the family home in something of a strop.
We are left with the aftermath of this argument as Leah comes to terms with not really being able to engage with her daughter in any meaningful discussion and as the play continues, she begins to question the things she has said, the lies that she has told and her inability to say the right words to her daughter at any time and not just when tensions are high.
There is a magical portal through which comes three mythical characters used by parents up and down the land largely to bribe and cajole their children to behave. First comes the energetic and exuberant Easter Bunny (all the mythicals are played by Luca Rutherford) who bounces into the action with a large bag of fun-sized milky ways. Her enthusiasm is tempered by the sullen demeanour of Leah who through her interaction with the seasonal bunny eventually wears her out to leave The Easter Bunny believing that the magic is lost forever. There are also appearances from a deeply depressed Santa Claus and a very matter of fact Tooth Fairy.
This is a story about the lies we tell our children ostensibly to protect them but also how this over protection can bite a parent on the behind when the lies are inevitably unravelled. It is also about the lies we, as a nation, tell ourselves and we are taken through what is essentially a year in the life of a mother, a nation, and the unseen daughter as Leah wrestles with the truth and the untruths that she has told at various points during her daughter, Angel’s life.
The staging is very effective, almost claustrophobic and the accompanying images and videos give the audience a lot to think about during the forty-five-minute piece. The magical portal is a very clever theatrical device and some of the synchronisation of the lighting effects were very dramatic indeed and controlled with a great deal of precision.
There is a lot of humour in Stone’s poetic writing which takes you on an emotional journey from start to end. There is a contrast in tempos with which the lines are delivered which adds pathos and urgency when required in the narrative. The nature and reimagination of the mythical beings put me in mind of the writing of Terry Pratchett and I cannot pay a greater compliment to the author for their thoughtful and skilled writing.
The Lies runs at Alphabetti Theatre until 3rd June and is well worth a look – I expect more than once because there is a lot to take in over forty-five minutes and I have no doubt that you may get a different experience from a second viewing.
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