Serial Killers and Bus Boys – A Closer Look at the Precursor to True Love Lies

Did you ever attend your high school reunion? Ever experience that eerie feeling that while at first glance everyone looks older and more mature, after ten minutes of milling around with your drink in your hand, you realize that everyone there is exactly the same?

Notorious playwright Brad Fraser knows what we mean, and has infused that same feeling into the script of his play, True Love Lies. Running at The Cultch from September 21 to October 1 this play is a return to the same characters from another work of his – Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love – a performance that was wildly successful at its world premiere more than 20 years ago. In case you missed Unidentified Human Remains, we thought we would catch you up on the play which ultimately has become a prequel to True Love Lies.

Unidentified Human Remains ensemble still photo from 1990

Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love at Workshop West, Edmonton, 1990

Opening to packed audiences at the Alberta Theatre Projects’ PlayRites festival in Calgary in 1989, Unidentified Human Remains was regarded as highly controversial from the moment it premiered due to its violence, nudity and scandalous dialogue. Of course, for those same reasons, it was also applauded as a huge success. Soon after its premiere, it went on to successful runs in Vancouver (by Touchstone Theatre), Edmonton, Toronto, Chicago and New York, just to name a few, before being named one of the 10 best plays in 1992 by TIME Magazine. It’s won numerous awards and has been translated into multiple languages for runs in places like Greece, Brazil, Argentina and Japan. Oh, and did we mention Fraser also wrote the play’s adaptation for the film Love and Human Remains that was released in 1993? It’s safe to say this little Canadian gem has seen huge international success.

Unidentified Human Remains is a complex story that follows a handful of twenty-somethings desperately trying to find the true meaning of love – all the while living in a neighbourhood that’s being terrorized by a serial killer. But wait, how does True Love Lies fit into the picture? Well, as it turns out, True Love Lies is a look at two of the play’s characters, Kane and David, and their surprise return into each other’s lives 20 years later.

In Unidentified Human Remains, the lead character David is a former child actor now working as a server. Often predisposed to seek intimacy in fleeting sexual encounters with complete strangers, David is blindingly in love with his heterosexual best friend Bernie. Ultimately however, he develops a relationship with Kane, the bus boy 12 years his junior. Kane, who has an affinity to television due to the lack of affection he receives from his parents, idolizes David and his TV star past. However, in a constant battle to recognize his own sexuality, Kane ultimately develops into a stronger, more confident character at the end of the play with a somewhat ambiguous yet seemingly bright future.

Stage still from True Love Lies, live theatre in Vancouver presented at The Cultch

True Love Lies, 2011, at The Cultch, Vancouver

Fast forward 20 years and In True Love Lies we find out that Kane’s future involves a wife and two kids. When his daughter applies for a job at a trendy restaurant, only to discover the restaurant owner is her father’s past lover, the once-happy family dynamic gets turned upside down. See for yourselves what happens next in this wicked dark comedy starting September 21st with a preview at The Cultch.

True Love Lies runs at The Cultch from September 21st to October 1st. Tickets start at $16 and are available online at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363 and in person at 1895 Venables Street.

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