Jun 1 – Aug 12
Gilliam Stage at Barter Theatre
“It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” – Noel Coward
By Sandy Rustin
The true meanings of fate, identity and marriage are called into question as a surprising, hilarious web of secrets unravels in this potentially (not quite) murderous romantic comedy.
What if you woke up one day and everyone decided to tell the truth about everything? No more little deceits. No more little cover-ups. No more secrets; Everyone could feel free to reveal all of those things they have been hiding about their lives. The world would turn on its head.
So much about humans as a species is base on deception, which comes from the very nature of our survival. Deception is a tool we as humans have used from time eternal to protect ourselves, get what we want, and still remain part of an organized and, then, civilized society.
The character of Charles Condomine in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit utters the words, “It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” The words ring true, even moreso in today’s world. Honesty is shocking. It can be terribly shocking with tragic results; OR, it can be deliciously shocking with hysterical, life-altering results, such as occurs in Sandy Rustin’s brilliantly witty play THE COTTAGE.
I’ve always been fascinated with the term “brutal honesty,” which sounds very harsh, but if you think about it, also sounds like a great premise for a comedy. Why should honesty ever be brutal? Aren’t we taught always to be honest from the time we begin to speak. Shouldn’t it be natural to us to be honest? Of course, sometimes we enjoy the brutality more than the honesty; It’s important to remember that the motivation must be honesty and not brutality. It is in this context, motivated by honesty and not brutality, that brutal honesty is truly sidesplittingly funny. Because honesty, particularly from people of culture and high society, is so rare.
One cannot help but think of the oft-quoted line uttered by Jack Nicholson as Colonel Jessep in the movie A Few Good Men as he shouts, “You can’t handle the truth!” I have heard this quote uttered many times in many different instances by many different people with great relish and followed by laughter of recognition. Why is that? Why can’t we handle the truth?
So one person wakes up one day and tells everyone the truth. That one truth leads to a whole series of truths and the world is turned upside down. Not for harm, but for the better. The lives of everyone involved are changed. In many ways, the truth frees them from the burden of deceit.
It’s time in our lives today for honesty and comedy! Have fun. Tell the truth! The world will be a better place for doing both.
Director, The Cottage