All The Things I Lied About
Roundabout@Summerhall (venue 26)
to August 28
Katie Bonna in her solo show in the round draws all of us – almost by sleight of hand – into such a cleverly spun web of funny and candid stories and honest questions about lying that we can’t escape it when we walk out the door.
She first appears as a TED talk presenter and we’re happy to go along with this harmless conceit as her means of introducing herself to us and her topic:Lying. Like A TED talker, she doesn’t want to be boring or dishonest, so we quickly get to full disclosure about her upbringing and a few of the crazy childhood lies she stuck to her brother and sister. Her parents, who figure largely in this tale of circles within circles are also introduced. Dad, the Jeremy Clarkson/Alan Partridge-cross dentist, and Mum, the dysfunctional drunk. It’s easy to sympathise with the father – the accusations and the embarrassing scenes he puts up with and how he tries to hold the family together.
But not all is as it seemed. When she has moved away from home and embarked on her own life and 14 relationships, a phone call draws her home again and the lid is lifted to reveal a very different family story than the one she had believed for years. Someone has been lying. Before we all gasp in shock and fluff up with outrage at this state of affairs, she cleverly reminds us that we all lie everyday – did you really read the Terms and Conditions before you ticked the yes box?
But not all lies are created equal. She very effectively gets us to compare – yes, you look great today; with “gaslighting”, which she illustrates with a simple but effective scene from the movie of the same name.
Although the underlying questions are serious, there’s plenty of humour along the way. Her spot-on caricature of Donald Trump, her daily “liary” and even water-pistols and red plastic balls keep the tempo up and the potential for maudlin down.
Because of her admirable candour about her own struggles in relationships, we are not allowed the satisfaction of condemnation of the parent who betrayed her family but she does leave us with lots to ponder about why we lie to ourselves and others and also raises the scary question – are we living in a “post-truth society”?
It isn’t a TED talk but it is a thoughly engaging and thought provoking piece of theatre which explores the emotions, the family baggage, the motivations and the self-deceptions that propel us into that most common everyday behaviour – lying.