True + False
Big Picture Group at Viaduct Theatre. Dir. Roger Bechtel. Written and performed by ensemble cast.

How do we decide what to believe and what not to believe? That’s the rhetorical question posed by this performance experiment, in which eight actors have each written two autobiographical pieces that in one way or another explore the concept of truth. The catch? Of each cast member’s stories, one is true and one is made up. Audience members are given score cards printed with a large T on one side and F on the other, and after each monologue we’re asked to vote: Did we believe that one, or was it a load of crap?

The pieces range from sensational (one actor tells how she fought to believe that her best friend’s brother was falsely accused of murder, until the truth came tragically to light) to humorous (what your MySpace profile really means). The backdrop array of televisions shows the actors, shot from cameras hidden all over the theater, as well as establishes slides and videos for each story. The commentary on the media’s role in truthiness is well taken—if that teen murder story were true, we think, Wouldn’t it have been all over CNN?—but it’s the voting that really gives us pause. Having made a snap decision that an actor’s first story is false, what do we do when his second doesn’t ring true? We begin to doubt our every decision, and with good cause. We aren’t told at the end which stories were true or false, but we do get a tally of our votes: At our performance, the audience was wrong on 11 of 16 stories. That’s true bullshit.—Kris Vire