Everything Before The But Is A Lie

at the BT until Saturday 4th March 2000

You might have thought that everything after the 'but' was a contextualization, not a falsification, of everything before. But Simon Chesterman's title gives the lie to half of what we say and perhaps even more-that everything before the 'but' is a lie is no assurance that anything after it is the truth.

As the title, so is the play divided in two. Each of its two parts is a recapitulation of the other. A couple, Him, played by Richard Brent, and Her, played by Delphine Schrank, receive a message on the answering machine from an acquaintance who has killed, in the first part himself, and in the second herself. Or at least it seems to have been suicide. A bouquet of flowers also arrives. In the second part, the relationships that each partner had to the suicide victim-which are in both parts far more involved than the minimal emotional responses of Him and Her suggest-are reversed, and the personalities of the characters are different. In both parts, each partner knows far more than the other knows (s)he knows. Their dreams mirror each other's.

If the set change between the two parts is the 'but' which divides the play, then perhaps it is appropriate that the second part is better than the good first part. Mr. Chesterman has written a good play and Roz Pike has directed it well. Mr. Brent is good, particularly so in the second part. Ms. Schrank is very good. Her moving eyes and open mouth are a cast in themselves. Her performance imparted such an intriguing quality to Mr. Chesterman's lines that I hope in writing his next play he will even more fully exploit her capacity to create suspense and moral ambiguity.

David Gallagher