When flyered for Matthew Gouldesbrough’s new play Truth / Reconciliation, I was told I could expect “serious theatre” from the Elegy group. Projected onto the back of the stage as I entered was a similarly bold claim: “THIS IS GOOD THEATRE.” Can you forgive me for being sceptical?
A must-see for anyone at the Fringe
It’s cliché to say you left the theatre with goosebumps, but this much is true for Truth / Reconciliation. In a small, blackbox room with cameras and projectors, the sheer intensity of Gouldesbrough’s writing and direction is hard to evade.
There is an element of spectacle to his direction, as the actors operate cameras to project back their faces – now distorted – onto the back wall of the stage. It’s more than clever: it is uncanny, even terrifying, to watch two versions of the same face at once move slightly out-of-sync. And with words that speak of quantum physics and theatre itself, this tech never feels tokenistic. Strangely alchemical, it wrings the script for all its worth.
As for the actors, I have never seen a greater example of theatre as physical labour. Hannah Morrison (Bea) and Jake Felts (Alex) speak and move with such power and intensity that flashes of humour take you by surprise – “I’m ho-ho-homeless” – while poetry cascades from their mouths. The effect is something like Sarah Kane’s Crave, pushed further with sound and light and intensity. It is easy to look past the occasional incoherent sentence when so much is gained from the energy behind it, but the best moments of the play are the duologues between the two after so much careful dancing around each other.
WIth tactful conversations about the theatre industry - casting couches, intimacy coordinators – Truth / Reconciliation is a must-see for anyone at the Fringe. Seriously good theatre.