Does Truth Trump Fiction in Theater?

London Road, a new play based on a true story.

London Road, a new play based on a true story.

“Based on a true story.”

For some reason when that small sentence appears before a film or in the program of a play it carries a lot of weight. Audiences seem to love the idea that what they’re about to see is based in reality, even if it’s not completely accurate. But should we really be concerned about the veracity of a show? Or is it more important that the story be entertaining?

Lyn Gardner at The Guardian asked these questions in her recent column. She contends that stories “based on real events” shouldn’t be the focus of theater. One example she points out is the play London Road, a musical based on a true story of murders in a small town. Yes, the story itself is a draw, but the production and music are what really stick with audiences. Do you agree?




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