True Love Lies – Review

True Love Lies

Martha Cohen Theatre

September 20 to October 8, 2011

Be sure to tune into CBC radio’s Eyeopener this morning at around 8:15 to hear my live review of the play.

Real life may be more interesting than fiction, but in Brad Fraser’s play True Love Lies, it’s Brad’s real life that lends the interesting story arc to the play. Apparently, the idea for the show came about when Brad bumped into his long-estranged male lover who had since gone on to marry a woman and have children. Riffing on this experience, Fraser resurrected two characters from his past plays – David and Kane from his hit show Unidentified Human Remains and The True Nature of Love– and puts them in a similar situation.

Overall the play is about the implosion of what appears to be the ideal nuclear family and how this family defines and then redefines their relationships. Kane and Carolyn are a happily married couple; they run their own successful design company and have two seemingly normally rebellious teenage kids.  The girl, Madison, is outspoken and sexually precocious and Royce, the boy, is a geeky sarcastic introvert. Madison applies for a job at the new restaurant in town and discovers that the man who owns the restaurant, David, is her father’s former boyfriend.

Needless to say, the reappearance of David causes all sorts of emotional upheaval in the family and in one way or another unhinges everyone as they try to deal with the situation. And while the play does tackle some hard subjects, it’s not a downer of a story. In fact, it’s kind of a very deliciously disturbed comedy/drama.

I originally saw this production at its premiere in Toronto in 2009 and was fairly luke-warm on the whole thing. But after seeing the Calgary performance, I’m happy to say that I have a much higher opinion of the play and its possibilities.

My first and strongest impression of the play is that there is no question that the kids stole the show. Sarah Koury as Madison and Alexander Plouffe as Royce were outstanding and a total joy to watch. With both performances the acting just disappeared and they fully morphed into the characters.

Rejean Cournoyer as David was also excellent and he played his character with a beautiful restrained arrogance that just oozed charisma.

In total I really enjoyed the play and there weren’t any glaring weak points in the story or the acting, the set design was unique and the staging was incredibly creative. However I do have one criticism when it comes to the pacing of the play. True Love Lies is made up of a series of short scenes that are meant to be sound-bitey and quick. But in this case, instead of fast-paced we got frenetic. Which is a real shame, because I would have enjoyed it so much more if they just slowed down a bit and let me take it all in for a breath or two.


For the guys – Straight or gay, I think you’ll relate to many of the characters and their reactions. You’ll love the comedy and the fact that the story moves along quickly. SEE IT

For the girls – While you’ll no doubt laugh, I think it will be the bitter/sweet moments that will draw you in and catch your interest. Keep an eye on Royce’s character and maybe bring some Kleenex.  SEE IT

For the occasional audience – Well first you have to get past the provocative story line and sexually explicit content. But even still, I think the unconventional pacing and dark humour might turn you off. SKIP IT

For the theatre junkies – There are three not to miss performances, great dialogue, inventive staging and cool set design. SEE IT


  1. Chris Davis · September 22, 2011

    Congrats new CBC Eyeopener theatre critic.

    For the guys – listen, it will be good for you. And get out of bed.

    For the girls – listen (you can still do the makeup, make breakfast and get the kids out the door – and get ready for work)

    For the occasional audience – you are probably listening to QR

    C.D. (Critic of the Critic, but not very critical)

    For the theatre junkies – not to be missed.

  2. ruth spivak · October 6, 2011

    I’m really glad I came across your website! Too bad I didn’t read your review of Tosca Cafe before seeing it. I’ll be seeing to Kill a Mockingbird, and am very much looking forward to a performance with dialogue! I would appreciate you keeping me posted on all reviews, since I have a blog that promotes quality books, music, online resources, and quality educational Calgary events. I don’t do reviews, but it would be good for my readers to access them. Please check out my website and let me know what you think.
    All the best! (

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