Attending the world premiere of a new play is an honour and a privilege we don’t get very often in Windsor. When that play belongs to acclaimed New York playwright Eve Lederman, the honour is doubled in prestige. Her latest drama, Nothing But The Truth opened in a feisty production this weekend (April 19) at The Shadowbox Theatre.
This harrowing legal drama actually fit well into The Post Production schedule – it is quick witted, very dramatic and has more psychological quirks than one might have found in the old London Asylum for the Insane in the early 1900s. Packed full of engaging and convincing dialogue, the story is well played and leaves you thinking.
Nothing But The Truth portrays the relationship between a patient and therapist. Rachel (Jessie Gurniak) is a distraught young woman exploring her family secrets and fears about children with her therapist Marilyn (Michele Legere). When Marilyn faces questions in a lawsuit for abruptly terminating Rachel’s treatment, she paints Rachel as a violent patient and an explosive battle ensues.
In its simplest form, Nothing But The Truth is an exposé about therapy itself. How we deal with psychotherapy and put our trust into doctors is at the heart of the matter in this play. We’ve all had doubts about the profession at some point in our lives and we’ve seen images of restraints, giant needles, electro-shock treatments and other disturbing images in media and movies throughout the years, but the profession has its place and has helped many people recover through the years.
When the play gets going, we see Rachel meeting with Marilyn for the first time and those doctor doubts are evident from the get-go. Throughout the show Rachel deals with issues of sexual abuse and child pornography and it gets pretty squeamish as the details evolve, peaking as the two watch an HBO movie clip featuring a child sex scene.
It’s a disturbing story, but it’s told with class and style. The livelier parts of the show occur between the two lawyers Carmen (Shayna Reiss) and Stan (Paul Salmon). The scenes alternate between the doctor’s office and the deposition room as Marilyn testifies to one version of events and then the clock turns back to the doctor’s office where the facts unfold.
Fans of law television shows will love the legal chatter and arguments between the lawyers, but the magic in Nothing But The Truth lies in the treatment itself. It’s a cause for conversation and debate as the show concludes. I would have loved to hear a lawyer’s take on the show after it was over – maybe that could be considered for future showings.
Director, Fay Lynn, selected a great cast for the show. Rachel was a breakout role for Jessie Gurniak who got the chance to really spread her wings in this show. Her Rachel was disturbed enough for the audience to know she was emotionally strained and deeply damaged, but throughout the therapy and we got to hear her life story, there was always hope for a better day.
Michelle Legere is no stranger to the stage. The award-winning actress gave Dr. Marilyn an appealing motherly approach that was embracing and entertaining. As the story unfolded, she could quickly drop the mother façade at the drop of a hat and the anger was delivered without reproach.
The lawyers were engaging and stereotypical. Shayna Reiss was fabulous as Carmen, the demanding, almost feminist, lawyer for the prosecution, while Paul Salmon was crafty as the smoking sleazebag, male chauvinist defense lawyer.
A great addition to the cast was Joey Ouellette, who offered some light humour as the hospital administrator and quirky doctor Jerome Adler.
As with all Post Productions shows, the physical program is a winner. Designer Kris Simic packed the show information into a 20-page glossy package that looked like an actual legal case file, with tabs, handwritten notes and redacted information.
The stage was simple and could be broken down into three sections – the deposition room, the doctor’s office and a slice of the side for brief hospital scenes.
If you’re a fan of David Mamet’s Oleanna and are looking for a good legal and psychological ordeal with complex characters, Nothing But The truth is a great exploration into the dynamics of mental therapy, love, betrayal and obsession.
Post Productions’ presentation of Nothing But The Truth runs for three more shows at The Shadowbox Theatre on April 25, 26 and 27.