Canadian playwright Brad Fraser reunites two characters from previous works in True Love Lies, set to play The Cultch later this month.
Bringing together Kane and David who we first met twenty years ago in Fraser’s Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love and Poor Superman, the story sees Kane, now presumably straight, married and living in suburbia with two kids. When David makes an appearance back in his life, Kane’s gay life is revealed to his family.
“The premise is that we all lie for the purpose of maintaining relationships,” explained Dunn. “Fraser has written a really wonderful and contemporary piece that doesn’t put any moral judgement on telling this story.”
With a fondness for mixing biting comedy with serious drama, Fraser has never been one to shy away from pushing the envelope and making his audiences squirm. And while Dunn says that perhaps True Love Lies is not as squirm-inducing as some of Fraser’s previous works, there continues to be a satiric edge and what Dunn calls a “sexy bite” to his writing.
“It’s pretty tricky to reach the right balance between the comedy and drama,” confessed Dunn. “A lot of getting it right has to do with casting. Some actors naturally fall into Fraser’s rhythms and some actors find it difficult.”
According to Dunn though, Fraser does make the shifts in tone somewhat easy. “He spells it out pretty well in the play, showing you where it is and how both the drama and comedy can be done at the same time.”
Describing True Love Lies as having a more mature sense of writing than perhaps some of his earlier work, Dunn believes Fraser wrote the play to appeal and reach a wider audience.
“Brad explores the merging of the gay and straight worlds and what it is like 20 years after these characters originally met. There is no gore, there is no nudity and while there is some sexual stuff it is definitely toned down. By today’s standards is pretty mild.”
In addition to being known for his graphic content, Fraser has also confessed to exploring and playing with new structures in his work. Dunn says that while it does have less crazy experimentation than some of his earlier works might have contained, it is still identifiably Fraser.
“There is a fast and furious rhythm to the piece,” said Dunn. “You still get a lot of short scenes and quick movements but less magical realism than something like Unidentified Human Remains. The longest scene is about 10 minutes with quick movements through time. It’s a real whirlwind.”
Pushing the envelope in structure and content, Fraser’s earlier work has also been known to lose a few audience members during intermission. Dunn doesn’t see audiences for True Love Lies reacting the same way saying things have changed, especially with more gay characters in the main stream.
“I don’t think this is necessarily going to happen with True Love Lies, but it is difficult to say what people will find offensive. I saw a production of the show in Edmonton and while there may have been four or five that left at intermission, it was just as telling to overhear a 70 year old woman asking her husband at intermission if he ever had a gay lover.”
While hoping that audiences will walk away thinking about the mechanism we all use in choosing to tell some things and not others and the impact that has on those around us, Dunn also has hopes audiences will think about Fraser the playwright.
“It would be really cool if people start to have a dialogue about Brad and his place in Canadian theatre,” concluded Dunn. “Touchstone has been producing his plays for 30 years now and he has had a real impact from his early years as one of the bad boys of Canadian theatre to what he is today and how his stories have such amazing clarity on contemporary culture.”
True Love Lies
22 September – 1 October 2011
Edmonton’s internationally notorious playwright, Brad Fraser, is back with an audacious and outrageous new comedy of bad manners. A huge hit in the UK and during its Canadian premiere in Toronto, True Love Lies opens The Cultch’s 11/12 season with a searing comedy exposing a modern family and their long-held secrets. Visit http://thecultch.com for tickets and information.