by Carl F Gauze, Ink 19, May 2012
Four Truths and a Lie
By Audrey Kearns and Brian Bradley
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Brown Venue
It’s late, we’ve all had a few beers, and it’s time to relax a bit, and that’s the atmosphere in “Four Truths and a Lie.” Some comfy chairs fill the stage, some assorted Fringe regulars hang out up there and Audrey Kearns, former member of Discount Comedy Outlet strides about the stage in boots and black jeans. Each actor has prepared a short story from their lives but only one is true. Tonight the theme is “Close calls and narrow escapes” and the ticket holders must guess the faker.
Dennis Marsico relates working as a concierge at and all suites hotel in an “Exclusive area of Baltimore.” He accidently destroys a handicap man’s specially modified car. I’m immediately suspicious; I’ve been to Baltimore and have never found an “exclusive area.” Michelle Feren talks about and abusive grade school best friend relation – her girl friend won’t let her go the prom, but mom says otherwise and some it’s Rumble on the Play Ground time! Chase Padgett talks about a possibly illegal industrial action and a close call with the fire inspector, Ian Covell goes hiking while tripping on mushrooms and fights off a cute animal attack, and Janine Kline defuses a tense family holiday party by faking appendicitis, and then going through with the operation. You’ll never guess which one is fake, I sure couldn’t. It’s almost like these people were specially trained to convince listeners that the lies they tell are completely true. How DO they do that? Chatty and fun, this is almost like an hour in the beer tent minus the mosquitoes.
Orlando Fringe review: ’4 Truths and a Lie’
By Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel Theatre Critic
The premise is so simple, it’s genius: Five people tell a story and claim it’s true. But one of them is lying. The audience tries to guess who’s the liar.
So much fun.
Each show features different guest storytellers and therefore different stories. So in that regard, your results may vary, as the saying goes, depending on who’s spinning the tales.
My audience was regaled by actors Maria Ragen, Meghan Moroney and Scottie Campbell, along with comedians Paul Strickland and Chris Dinger. The stories can be profane (as some of mine were) — but they all certainly amused.
It’s easy to just sit back and enjoy a good yarn. Or you can try to go all Sherlock Holmes, like I did, pondering each fact of each story to see if it rang true. Despite my best efforts I didn’t guess the liar, and neither did the audience. But nevertheless “4 Truths and a Lie” left me feeling like a winner.
Fringe Review: 4 Truths and a Lie by Seth Kubersky, Orlando Weekly
- A son comes to terms with his occasionally abusive stepdad.
- A stand-up comic confronts a joke steaking competitor.
- A Catholic school playground dare turns into a teeth shattering brawl.
- A drunken third date turns into an anatomical disaster
- A young man finds himself cornered by a Costa Rican hotel clerk with a copious porn collection
Answer quick: which tales do you think are true, and which one is a bald-faced lie?
Host Audrey Kearns and collaborators Brian Bradley, Megan Whyte Soule and Matt Soule (formerly of Orlando’s fantastically funny Discout Comedy Outlet) have finally returned from Hollywood, and they’ve brought their hit MOTH-inspired storytelling scheme along. Each performance of 4 Truths and a Lie (pared down from the “5 Truths” of the L.A.-based podcasted production) features five different local voices venting on various topics.
At the performance I attended, Scottie Campbell, Paul Strickland, Maria Ragen, Meghan Moroney, and Chris Dinger shared stories along the theme “High Noon: Threats, Standoffs, and Showdowns.” All were excellent racaunteurs, with Moroney delivering the raunchiest tale and Campbell the most affecting. The audience cast ballots at the conclusion predicting which of the 5 was the prevaricator. I and my audience chose poorly (I’ll never trust Strickland again!), part of an unbroken streak of successful lying since the shows started in Kearns’ living room.
True or false, all five tales were worth telling and told well, making it an hour well worth my while. While your mileage may vary with the lineup, they have some talented talkers still on deck; see fivetruthsandalie.comfor the roster.
FRINGE REVIEW: by Samuel Butcher, Fire for Fire, www.samuelbutcher.net
Veritatem, Mendacium, Facto, Ficta: Four Truths and a Lie
“We all know art is a lie,” said Pablo Picasso, “art is a lie that let’s us realize truth”. He also said “computers are useless”, but let’s focus on the former. The vast majority of shows one will see at Fringe, and indeed anywhere, are lies. That talking plant in “Little Shop of Horrors”? It’s a lie. Anthony Pyatt Jr. destroying the stage with the concealed ballistic energy of his trauma? Liar. Lies are infectious: the author was tempted to use as a conceit of this review the notion of concealing within the text a lie: the author, though, decided that was stupid.
“Four Truths and a Lie”, produced and created by long time Fringe veterans Audrey Kearns, Brian Bradley (both Founder of the legendary Orlando comedy act “Discount Comedy Troupe”), Megan Whyte and Max Soul, was birthed inside the living room of Kearns and Bradley (married some twenty years). Having transplanted themselves from Orlando to Los Angeles the couple began hosting parties, and, with a group of friends all within the entertainment industry, soon began swapping stories and anecdotes. Slowly the idea evolved into a game, the rules of which are still used in the show: people will tell stories around a theme, and one person will lie; the onus for the listener is to guess the liar.
A simple idea. In such simplicity, though, lies limitless complexity. Having run the show live in Los Angeles and as a Podcast (available athttp://www.fivetruthsandalie.com/podcast-2/) with five people telling true stories and one a lie, Kearns, Bradley, Whyte and Soul (hereafter reffed to as KeBraWhySoul for ease of the author’s fingers) decided to return the Orlando Fringe and, on account of time constraints, drop one “truth” to make “Four Truths and a Lie”.
KeBraWhySoul do not rely on the same “cast”: each show has not only a different theme (the author saw “family trees”, but previous themes have run from the abstract “doors” to the concrete “addiction”), but also a different group of story tellers (the author saw the talents of Mark Daniel, Brian Bradley, Michael Marinaccio, Lisa Curtis and Steve Purnick). At the onset of the show the audience is provided a ballot with the names of the performers so that, at the conclusion of the evening, everyone can vote for who they believe the liar to be. For the 14th consecutive show, the majority of the audience were wrong (though, for the record, the author correctly spotted the liar).
Such a stripped conceit could easily be derailed – a stage performer too hungry for a laugh could leap into another’s story, the lie could be blatant or pointless, near anything. In choosing good storytellers, though, KeBraWhySoul (who do not direct what stories to tell, choosing instead to simply provide the theme and wish the performers luck) ensure they have a group of performers not only good at speaking, but as importantly equally good at listening. Presented with all six performers on stage (with a comfortable easy chair in the middle that serves as a throne for the storyteller) there’s an instant sense of camaraderie; in no small part because the names of each performer are placed into a hat and the order chosen at random by members of the audience. Since the performers don’t know what stories will be told either they become part of the audience, and their interest in the story being told focuses the attention on the storyteller.
The show begins with host Megan Whyte introducing the conceit and offering a story of her own on the theme. Whyte is an engaging and passionate ringmaster, but without the noxious sense that at the end of her speech one will be offered a bargain on a cleaning product. It’s clear Whyte loves the idea, loves the people and loves that the audience has come: qualities that immediately draw the audience in and destroy any illusion of distance between “the stage” and “the audience”. Conceit given, Whyte has the first performer chosen, and the show begins. Each story runs between six and eight minutes; some poignant, some funny, some a mix of both.
For a lie to work, though, KeBraWhySoul have to trust their storytellers. After hilarious and moving stories from Daniel, Curtis, and Bradley, Fringe Festival Producer Michael Marinaccio’s name was drawn from the hat (and hopefully spelled correctly). Marinaccio was the first to casually swear in his story, and a simple drop of “fuck” got an immediate gut laugh from the audience. A lesser performer, more interested in responding to the audience than giving to them, would switch tactics and go bawdy to keep the laughs flowing: Marinaccio swam straight through and told the story he wanted to tell.
A wonderful element of “Four Truths” is that one not only learns about the people on stage from what they say, but from how the say it. Daniel, an improv actor and comic, pulled the audience in with ease and established a friendly, jocular rapport. Curtis, the physical size of a pixie with the stage presence of Polyphemus, sat back and spoke with the softness of chatter caught on the wind. Bradley, a writer by profession, had an organized story replete with effective literary techniques. Marinaccio was bold and casual, simply stating what was, throwing the chips out and letting them fall where they may. Purnick, also an improv actor, gave a “fuller” performance, adding detail and nuance to ideas and notion, looping his way in constricting circles around his story. Each a different approach. Each honest to the storyteller. Each a way by which a stranger comes to know another.
The show relies on one of the oldest axioms of human expression: it could be done with two people on either side of a firepit. In a world where the line between art and entertainment blurs ever quicker, and “reality” television is the idea of truth, to strip away all the artifice of the theatrical experience and rely on the connection of one person to another is not only bold but brutally effective. The audience begins determined to work out who the liar is – by the middle of the first story, though, that notion is forgotten, replaced by genuine interest in these people and in their stories. Their stories, after all, are everyone’s stories: “Four Truths” works wonders because it assumes the universality of experience; one may not have experienced the exact events described on stage, but, odds on, one has experienced the emotional or psychological impact described. This evocation of past shared experience informs the running shared experience of the show: each storyteller became clearly more and more comfortable as the indescribable exchange of the human spirit flowed from them to the audience and back.
The shows only weakness lies in the time constraint – after the storytellers finish votes must be tallied, and to keep the audience entertained Whyte reads submissions on the theme from Twitter and Facebook. Chosen at random from a basket, some are funny, some interesting, some neither: Whyte does an admirable job of taking foreign material and making it her own, but after such an intense personal exchange it alters the mood. When the liar is revealed there isn’t a gasp of surprise; the audience instead applauds both out of appreciation for the talent on display, but perhaps more for the courage in the sharing of one’s life.
“Four Truths and a Lie” succeeds not only as entertainment, but as a unique social experience as well. A nights theme serves as a springboard – head over to the beer tent after a show and the author assures you, people will be huddled together, sharing stories of their own. In this KeBraWhySoul have achieved something special: a show that not only sticks with the audience, but gives the audience a sense of freedom to talk with others about themselves. Is art a lie? Of course. The lie, though, gives us all credence to share those truths we too often fear would wither in the light of day. To live a life without sharing oneself, after all, would be the most pitiable lie.