Theater review: 'La Vérité' (The Truth)

A play written by Florian Zeller; translated by Dori Parnes; directed by Moshe Kepten Bet Lessin, August 9.

'La Verité' 370 (photo credit: Daniel Kaminiski)
'La Verité' 370
(photo credit: Daniel Kaminiski)
Michel (Lior Ashenazi) is six months into an affair with Alice (Hila Zittoun), the wife of his best friend Paul (Yaron Motolla), who’s been the lover of Michel’s wife, Laurence (Michal Levi), for the past 18 months, neatly pulling the wool over Michel’s eyes, who, let’s face it, isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier, besides being a serial liar.
How all this works out is at the heart of The Truth, an impudent, enjoyable farce about lying and the unexpected consequences thereof by France’s newest favorite playwright, 35-year-old Florian Zeller.
The essential prerequisite for the good liar is the unimpeachable innocence s/he presents to the world. Michel tries hard, but he’s not very good at it. Compared to the rest, he’s a naïf, a babe in the woods, so that disaster almost happens, but hey, this is a farce, so a Happy Ending is a must.
Anna Ziv’s elegant panel set provides a smooth backdrop for the play’s changing venues and Oren Dar’s costumes adroitly suggest the characters’ middle-class affluence.
This is a Kepten show, so we expect good ensemble acting, and overall we get just that. Ashkenazi’s Michel is this accomplished actor’s usual blend of the suave and the frenetic, except that here he seems to be working too hard, and doesn’t run with the irony the text affords his character.
Happily that irony presents itself in Levi’s efficient Laurence and especially in Motolla’s deadpan Paul. The delectable Zittoun neatly functions as the conflicted Alice.
And yet, despite the fun and the belly-laughs, this Truth lacks that that essential blitheness, that grave wackiness that so augments a farce. You can’t put your finger on it, you just know when it’s not there.