The London Theatre
Reviewed – 27th June 2018
“Tedious, unconvincing and ultimately pointless though, Lies is a tragedy of wasted potential”
Let’s start with the positives. The London Theatre in New Cross is a lovely little space boasting a cosy bar area, a 42kg ‘wolfpoodle’ called Abba, and an intimate, 37 plus seat theatre where the audience are basically part of the show. The staff are friendly and kind, and the range of found furniture is surprisingly comfortable. The downside of entering this particular space on this particular night, was having to sit through Lies.
Lies, written and directed by Yuqun Fan, is the theatrical equivalent of the phrase “I told you so”. A smug and egotistical two-hander, Fan’s script promises much but delivers little. Contradictory takes on a murder? Sounds great! Power of theatre in a “post-truth” era? Count me in! Destabilising effects of social media? Yes please! The problem, ironically, is that none of these ideas make it into the show.
The action starts outside the room. Two actors enter, unprepared for an audience. We are “an hour early”. This triggers a sort of polygraph test on both actors, which proves futile. Are we to trust these actors? No, we just cannot trust a fake prop polygraph. Once the show proper starts, we hear three versions of a murder. Although set up as being “contradictory”, what we actually get are three complimentary narratives that quite comfortably come together to describe a murder. Rashomon this is not. We return to our framing device at the end as one actor wipes off her make-up, and the other picks up the leftover petals, telling the audience the show is well and truly over whilst doing so. Despite challenging those enforced signals and behaviours associated with a theatrical space and production, this ending falls flat and feels oddly out of joint with the rest of the show. Did anyone actually want the audience to be there?
A big problem is that Peter Stevens and Samantha Lock fail to really connect with the audience, something vital for a show in such a small space built around interaction between performer and spectator, and they both never really get a handle on the script. Lines are repeatedly fluffed and words stumbled over, making them seem ill at ease in the space. Ekaterina Chokova’s lighting design might be the saving grace for this production, making dramatic use of jump cuts and harsh purples and blues throughout.
Tedious, unconvincing and ultimately pointless though, Lies is a tragedy of wasted potential. Brimming with ideas, Lost Chapters Theatre will do well to continue developing experimental forms of theatre, they just need to find ways of getting across their ideas in more subtle and nuanced ways.
Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich
Photography by Yuqun Fan
The London Theatre