It’s a rare thing when a show deconstructs itself to reveal a web of lies even in its quest for truth. Katie Bonna, in her TED-esque talk about the science of lying, analyses the post-truth world, and, with humour and conviction, relays how gaslighting (the process by which one attempts to mask their lies by questioning the sanity and intentions of the accuser) can be related to, well, everything. Yes, everything –Brexit, Donald Trump, Katie’s own dad, and even ourselves. Katie, in this one-woman show, manages to throw the audience off kilter; honesty becomes synonymous with deceit, as our own brains are wired to reduce unpleasant realisations about ourselves and our actions (cognitive dissonance, anyone?), warding them off with little fibs to restore harmony.
But this isn’t a dry, scientific, blame-and- shame show. Far from it, Katie is warm, funny, and personal in her storytelling, using various strategies (including audience participation, but not the icky, embarrassing kind) to keep the content amusing, affecting, and real. She gradually strips away the layers within the show denouncing them as more lies, and indeed lambasts the ‘art’ of storytelling itself as a set up to avoid embarrassment, judgement, and fear from just being real. It’s very clever, and moving, with a superbly nuanced performance by Katie herself, under the keen eye of seasoned director Joe Murphy. With such a powerhouse team, it’s unsurprising that the show, first developed as part of the 2106 Paines Plough Roundabout season, won a fringe first award in Edinburgh.
A simple set and a few props is all that this show really requires, allowing the story to remain paramount. At just an hour in length, the show could easily provide fodder for a lengthy post-theatre dinner discussion. Yet the most
powerful thing about the show is its ability to make us question the stories we regularly tell ourselves – compounded by the fibs we’re fed constantly by the media and the political figures that purport to be emblems of truth. Did I enjoy the show? Absolutely. Would I be recommending it to others? Of course. Is it worth 5 stars? Probably. But even now I’m questioning myself on all three counts – and it’s that fact that reminds me just how good this show really is.
Review by Amy Stow
Fringe First winner Katie Bonna’s TED talk on the science of lying. Well, that’s not quite true. TED haven’t actually asked her to do one – yet. In a comic exploration of her past mistakes and inevitable future disasters, Katie unpicks how everyday lies can lead to a world of Trump and Brexit.
Dirty Great Love Story, co-written and performed with Richard Marsh, won a Fringe First in 2012, and Katie was also nominated for Best Actress by The Stage.
Directed by Joe Murphy
Soho Theatre Upstairs