What if you had to write a memoir but lacked scintillating real-life events to document? Amateur fantasy-fiction writer Jo Darum (Anna Camp) finds herself in precisely that predicament in Nick Jones’s enjoyable new meta-play, Verité, now at LCT3.
Two gray-suited publisher-devils brush aside Jo’s magnum opus about a dragon war to dangle a James Frey–esque Faustian bargain: a generous advance for a memoir about a life more “interesting” than the one she’s living. Dropping hints and occasionally interfering, the duo nudges Jo toward a more exciting existence, protesting all the while that she must write “her” story…it would just make for a better book if said tale fell into a marketable genre. Chafing at settled family life, Jo begins making questionable life decisions with abandon — for the good of the book.
Verité asks probing questions about truth and fiction in our authenticity-obsessed culture. We expect confessional memoirs to follow recognizable Hollywood patterns. But does the artistic part reside in living a fascinating life, or is it the process of transforming mundane details with singular perspective?
Jones might have pushed his premise to wilder conclusions — when Jo’s dilemma reaches a crisis, things get melodramatic. But even that outcome affirms the playwright’s point: In confessional art, the true is often a satisfying arrangement of the false.