Theatre Review: Truth (Birmingham REP)

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Truth
Birmingham REP
Helen Chadwick Song Theatre & November Productions
Reviewer: Georgia Kelly

If, like me, you have never encountered ‘song theatre’ before, there is no better introduction than Truth. A medium that seems to combine the most pointed and moving aspects of acting and singing, changing what you may think theatre performance should be.

Helen Chadwick, composer and creator, received masses of stories from individuals the world over, all describing a moment in their life where truth changed its course, for better or for worse. With no linear plot or end-point the piece is not designed to carry you on the same journey as a normal show, rather you are carried by the waves of these stories, immersed in their ideas of truth, touched by their lives, and left in the end with a gentle awareness that truth is an idea that depends on where I stand.’ There is no predetermined, structured move from point A to point B, and there’s no need for one. Truth isn’t a journey, nor is it a problem seeking resolution, it’s simply an exploration. The thought-provoking stories told through Truth are at times haunting and hilarious, exploring the backdrops to our versions of truth in a myriad of ways, from children stealing polos to horrific recounts of assault. All delivered by the deeply affecting vocals of the cast. It’s hard not to be swept up by the beauty of Truth. 

Though the piece presents us with these charged retellings, it ultimately succeeds or fails on the all-important songs and voices, which carry the entire thing with seamless skill. Effortlessly so, it seems as simple as breathing to the immensely talented Helen Chadwick, Victoria Couper, Krystian Godlewski, and Liz Kettle. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend 70 minutes than listening to the grace with which Chadwick’s arresting compositions are sung with.

Fluidly moving from one story to the next, each one envelops the audience in generous harmonies that change shape and style throughout according to the tale told. There is amazing contrast between all these explorations of truth, not just in their subject matter that varies from surviving war to familial relationships, but in their nature as they expose everything from white lies to monumental revelations. Personal favourites were the deeply moving ‘I Am Certain’, ‘When Truth Threatened My Life’, ‘No Daughter of Mine’, and ‘Freeing.’

Truth will open you up to the possibilities of the sung voice in theatre beyond musicals. Not only that but you may very well leave questioning your own perception of truth, or simply with a quiet acceptance that truth is not always as fixed in its meaning as we might believe it to be.

Truth is playing at The Birmingham REP until 19th May. It will then tour nationally until 3rd June, find out more about the tour at helenchadwick.com