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Review of Lies by Yuqun Fan at The London Theatre

LIES
LIES

A brief review of a brief play. There’s Him (Peter Stevens) and Her (Samantha Lock). Character names are not supplied in the information sheets given to the audience, so I’ve gone with Him and Her for the sake of argument. The play is in two parts. In the first, a lie detector device is brought out. “I’m a woman,” says Her, in a deadpan manner. The device buzzes, indicating a lie has been told, in line with an apparent rise in blood pressure and increase in perspiration. But without a trained examiner (the exercise is a rather crude self-assessment) the tests are fairly swiftly abandoned. It is quite an elaborate set-up for the main event, in which the audience is asked to determine who is telling the truth about an incident in the middle of the night in a residential area.

In the second part, then, three narratives are presented. They are not, interestingly, vastly different from one another, and it becomes clear that it is quite impossible to tell which perspective comprises the complete truth because no given party witnessed everything that went on. There was a crime against the person committed, and the victim’s friend, or so she asserts, encountered a locked door such that she was unable to come to the victim’s rescue. The friend’s mobile ran out of battery power during an emergency call put into the police. Thus, as far as can be reasonably deduced, there were no witnesses to the crime.

The performances were sufficiently engaging, with regular asides to the audience. The play had a most unconventional ending – we sat, waiting for a curtain call that never came, even after Him had declared the show to be over and done with. Did the production not feel itself worthy of the audience’s applause? The plot raises more questions than it answers, a point acknowledged by Him, though Her, with justification, makes the counter-point that the audience is deliberately being left to figure out for themselves what happens afterwards.

The rather intellectual approach this production takes won’t appeal to everyone, though I liked the observations within the show, both explicit and implied, about the dynamics between performers and audience. There could have been more background details included – of more concern to me than who was telling the truth (cross-examination in court will probably better determine that) was why did this chain of events occur, and what motive was there (if any) on the attacker’s part?

The overall premise is promising. Some simple but effective use of technology worked well. But at least a vote should have been taken, I think, on which version of events was likeliest to be truthful, rather than concluding by simply being told to leave the theatre.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Based on a real event, LIES looks into the power of theatre and social media. In a “post-truth” era when our perceptions of an event are largely influenced by the dramatic narratives on social media, is it still possible to know who is lying?

Written and Directed by: Yuqun Fan
A production by the Lost Chapters Theatre
Lost Chapters Theatre is an aspiring theatre company founded by Yuqun Fan and Jane Ryan who met when they were studying MA Text and Performance at RADA. The company aims to make bold and inclusive work that stages the lost words in our society. LIES is the company’s first production.

Cast: Peter Stevens and Samantha Lock
Running time: 45 min | Suitable for ages: 18+
THE LONDON THEATRE
443 New Cross Road,
New Cross, London, SE14 6TA

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