Michael Gurr’s The Simple Truth is a two-hander that is an interrogation and investigation into story telling and truth.
The play is set inside a room at a police station. A woman, Sarah, sits at a table with a detective, Hirst. At first he talks – at length – until finally she speaks. She has come to confess something. But whether she did what she says she did is another matter. As is whether Hirst is who he presents as being.
This is a very still, reflective play, dense with language and seeming not to need visuals. (It could probably work as a radio play as well as a stage play.) It’s subtle, sometimes confusing and always enigmatic. There are Gurr’s usual witty one-liners and clever plays on words, but the overwhelming feeling is one of loss.
HIRST: [Speaking about an old colleague] He lost both testicles in an alpine rescue accident and went into academia.
Unfortunately this is a non-smoking police station. Because right about then I would have lit up.
When I say he lost his testicles, I don’t mean he misplaced them. They were taken from him. It was a faulty helicopter winch rope and a new recruit not following procedure.
Castrated at two hundred feet and spinning like a fucking catherine wheel.
Sarah’s life has been constrained and choked by her doctor husband. She has been voiceless too long and when she starts to describe her pain to Hirst, it seems the words will unravel her.
SARAH: [Talking about her husband] He watched them work. Utterly silent and utterly pleased while I told him about the pain, but without words.
I could not speak.
Everything I have told you, everything I have said, I said to him, but I wasn’t able to say it.
Aside from the loneliness of being in a marriage with someone you cannot speak to or being a police officer with a voice and learning that no one wants to hear or appreciates, there is also the loneliness of truth. Hirst would like a cunning, brilliant criminal, worthy of his detective work and Sarah wants to confess her simple truth, except that once she starts to talk it’s anything but simple and a long way from truth.
Publisher: Currency Press
Cast: 1M, 1F