All the Things I Lied About is a truly fascinating piece of theatre. It's a remarkable reflection of (and response to) a society that seems to be up a certain creek without a paddle, having got there by embracing political campaigns that place emotions over facts: a post-truth society headed by a reality TV star. And through this writer and star Katie Bonna has filtered her life, experiences and fears into a fake TED talk. It is deeply personal, delving into the micro level of the writer's life, and hilariously insightful on the macro level of our troubled world.
Bonna's 'TED talk' focuses on three levels of lies. The ones she has told from a young age and how these shape the person she is, the ones told around her that have impacted her life, leading to her parents' divorce and her disenfranchisement from her father, and the lies that have led to today's drastic geopolitical situation. A particularly strong segment is where she breaks down the infamous Donald Trump defence of his Access Hollywood tape (a moment we all thought would end him). Through the prism of gaslighting, she shows piece by piece how he lies and normalises truly abhorrent actions. It is breathtakingly effective, with echoes felt later in the exploration of her father's lies.
For those unfamiliar as to what a TED talk is, it is a short talk by an expert of their field on a particular topic. Scanning through their Youtube channel you can see talks with such titles as Adventures of an asteroid hunter, How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas, and Can a robot pass a university entrance exam? I confess I have never spent much time watching them, but they seemed an interesting format for Bonna to tie her show initially together. It is in expanding out of the confines of this self-imposed structure where the show flourishes into something special.
Bonna is a gifted performer, a warm presence who also happens to masterfully manipulate our emotions. She reeled us in with audience participation, fabulously well-chosen songs, and sweets liberally distributed to us; before devastating us with a final third so truthful it hurts. Her show is not as light as I had expected it to be and it certainly had an impact on my plus one. What was close to Bonna turned out to be more universal, cutting to the bone of my friend's experiences. Without giving away spoilers, here's a warning that All the Things I Lied About may end up devastating you.
Sometimes a show has an impact you didn't expect. All the Things I Lied About is a brave, deeply personal, endlessly fascinating hour of theatre, from a talented writer and performer. I wish we lived in a world where this play doesn't feel as necessary as it does. But this is one time where I am glad that a performer has found a route to honesty. I couldn't recommend this show enough, but come prepared to hug your friend if the contents are too close to home.