By Manning Harris

“I’m just truth-telling. Some people get antagonized by the truth,” says Violet in Tracy Letts’ great play “August: Osage County.”

There’s a lot of truth being told in Horizon Theatre’s excellent production of Brad Fraser’s “True Love Lies”; some of it is funny, and some of it stings quite a bit, but if a play is performed this well and holds the mirror up to human nature (as the Bard says), you’d be well-advised to get your tickets now. It’s been some time since I was eager for an intermission to be over so I could see the rest of the play. This is easily the Horizon’s best show of the season; Director Lisa Adler and an outstanding cast have done themselves proud. “True Love Lies” runs through June 20.

Picture an “adult” situation comedy/drama with a nuclear family – husband Kane (Robin Bloodworth), wife Carolyn (Lala Cochran), and teenagers Royce (Jimi Kocina) and Madison (Tracy Vaden Moore) – then add an old friend of Kane’s named David (James Donadio) who has recently moved back to town, and you have everyone you need for fun and games to begin.

Before we pose this family for a Rockwellian photo, however, it’s best to remember that appearances are deceptive. Without giving away too much, we’ll just say that Dad Kane’s friendship with restauranteur David has a history; and that Madison is a bit, uh, precocious with boyfriends; Royce is a computer whiz sadly lacking in self-esteem; and Carolyn is an energized queen of denial. David is a little too devil-may-care and debonair not to have his share of fascinating quirks, and he does. Believe me, all this just scratches the surface of these characters’ complexities.

It is up to the fine cast, aided by Brad Fraser’s top-notch script, to humanize the characters; and the cast delivers. Robin Bloodworth and Lala Cochran hit all the right notes as a couple that initially seem perfect for each other, but they learn David’s dictum that “There are very few relationships that are meant to last forever. And if they do, it’s never without major renovation.” Mr. Bloodworth and Ms. Cochran are wonderful, revealing a fierce love for their children even when sometimes at a loss how to express it. Mr. Donadio’s David is subtle and appealing and funny and exudes a magnetism that affects everyone he touches.

But it’s the kids who really knock us out. Tracy Vaden Moore and Jimi Kocina are well-nigh perfect in portraying two teenagers who are anything but; however, they will steal your heart even as they drive you batty. Mr. Kocina (well remembered for his brilliant portrayal of another teenager in Actor’s Express’ “dark play or stories for boys”) is a stage animal. His every gesture and voice modulation is flawless and bespeak a very large talent indeed.
“True Love Lies” has pace and dramatic tension! These gems are not found on every Atlanta stage, I assure you. Kudos again to the cast and to Ms. Adler.
Do you think human beings are easily categorized and labeled by such words as “gay,” “straight,” “bi,” “nerd,” or the like? Then go to this play and learn what Tennessee Williams meant when he said the human heart is not straight but curved like a road through mountains. This play is recommended for grown-up children.

For more information, visit www.horizontheatre.com. To contact Manning Harris: fmanningh@gmail.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.