What other title would you give to a play about deception? Michel (Alexander Hanson) is having an affair with Alice (Frances O’Connor), the wife of his best friend Paul (Robert Portal), while lying unashamedly to his own wife Laurence (Tanya Franks). This is the truth, we see it with our own eyes. But do Paul and Laurence actually know what is going on? If not, how might they react if they were to find out? Would they even care if, as seems likely, they are having an affair with each other? And, most importantly of all, is Michel really a better tennis player than Paul? This short and witty account of the agonies of the Parisian professional classes is, in some ways, reminiscent of Yasmina Reza’s Art – just perfect when accompanied by a good meal and a shared bottle of wine (taken in any order). The big surprise is the fact that the writer is Florian Zeller, the man behind the sombre and disturbing The Father and The Mother, both performed in London to great acclaim in the last year. Christopher Hampton seems to have aquired a job lot of Zeller’s plays, having translated all three. This bubbly piece, directed with the perfect lightness of touch by Lindsay Posner, plays in shortish scenes, each pairing two of the four characters. The only trick missed by Zeller is bringing the two women together, which is a pity as it could have been the play’s best scene. The non-starry cast spin their webs of lies convincingly, but they are professional actors so they would wouldn’t they? The central (and only) joke of characters telling preposterous stories when the audience knows or suspects that they are lying is just about strong enough to keep the the laughs coming for 85 minutes and the central proposition that it is lies that sustain relationships and the truth that destroys them is the most fun of all.
Performance date: 31 March 2016