“O, what a tangled web we weave,” Sir Walter Scott wrote in his epic poem Marmion, “when first we practise to deceive!” It’s a life lesson we can only hope unfortunate police officers Gobbel and Blunt—newly on the beat, it would seem— remember, given that the play’s Farcical succession of misunderstandings and physical injuries arise from their initial reluctance to quickly inform an elderly couple on Christmas Eve of the death of their daughter.
this gloriously naughty sitcom concludes with a life-lesson seemingly learned
Instead, they dither on the doorstep, arguing over who’s turn it is to ring the bell and so give the bad news—a situation complicated by the sudden arrival of Gronya, a vengeful woman looking to lynch a “resettled” paedophile whom she suspects “collaborator” police are preparing to extract to safety. No sooner has she moved on than the pair are faced with the elderly couple, the dementia-affected Garson and her husband, Balthasar with a dodgy hear, who immediately assumes the worst—though about their dog Miffy, missing for the best part of a week, rather than their daughter.
First seen at the Royal Court Theatre in 2002, this new Tron production under director Andy Arnold gives Anthony Neilson’s script delightful West of Scotland accents, with a top notch ensemble led by Michael Dylan and Martin McCormick as the loveable but hapless bobbies who rapidly find their situation spiralling out of control. In many respects, The Lying Kind is everything you’d expect of a farce (not least by having an obligatory Man of God caught with his trousers down), yet it’s one that’s tightly written—no loose ends, nothing extraneous—and performed with the right deadpan touch and speed.
If there’s a worry with The Lying Kind, it’s Neilson’s portrayal of Garson as a woman whose dementia returns her thoughts to an apparently brief sojourn on a cruise ship back in the early 1960s. Anne Lacey’s timing and physicality in the role are, of course, superb, but the script’s focus on her sudden amorous proclivities—especially to Blunt whom she believes is the ship’s captain—teeters uncomfortably into mockery of mental illness. What saves the day is the fact that, by the time we reach the climax, Garson suddenly appears to be the only sensible character left on stage.
Anti-paedophile vigilantes and Lazarus-like Chihuahua notwithstanding, this gloriously naughty sitcom concludes with a life-lesson seemingly learned—that it’s always simpler to tell the truth even when, as one character admits, “it might be bollocks”. Except, there’s one lingering doubt left in our minds at the end; Gronya’s young daughter Carol at one point insists she’s been sexually abused by her mother’s brother. And isn’t believed. Truth, sometimes, doesn’t appear to be enough.