The Truth Quotient by Richard Manley

I believe that Americans are by and large a lonely people. Our productivity and medication and social media notwithstanding, many of us struggle to make sense of our day-to-day lives, to find a sustainable balance between melancholy and hope.

The Truth Quotient takes place a few years from now, in a foreseeable future, when overcoming loneliness and feeling loved are no less of a problem, but technology offers more solutions to those who can afford them.

David is a wealthy and well-known businessman who has fought with depression for most of his life. We discover that about a year before the action of the play begins, he found the love, or at least affection, for which he had been desperately searching. It was furnished by a company called Nureál, which utilizes an expensive blend of social media theory and innovative technology to satisfy emotional needs. Due to the personal success of David’s first purchase, he is now about make a much larger commitment to this same company. More important to Nureál than the large sum of money David is spending is the information to be gathered from his interactions with their products, which will be used for marketing to a broader demographic. As well, there is the publicity his endorsement will provide.

Although never completely free of his doubts and insecurities, David appears close to patching together a personal life that works for him. He is close, that is, until his long estranged brother Donald arrives unexpectedly. Donald is a well-respected literature professor and poet, dying of cancer. The brothers are the only true family either has left. Donald wants to tear down the wall that had been put up ten years earlier, so that he can spend the end of his life with the person he used to trust and love more than anyone else. In the course of breaching that wall, however, the ever cynical and pragmatic Donald threatens to undermine David’s belief in the value of his newly purchased products. Nureál stands to lose a great deal if David does not remain an enthusiastic patron. A battle ensues between David’s faith in the future that is promised by Nureál, and the past that is shared with Donald. Only one will survive.


Characters

David - late 40s
Plain, pale, balding, short - in stark contrast to Caprice

Donald - early 50s
David’s older brother - disheveled, very thin

Father - 60s,
David and Donald’s father (age discrepancy of parents explained in the script)

Mother - 60s,
David and Donald’s mother

Rachel* - late 20s or early 30s
Senior customer service employee at Nureál - charismatic but not beautiful - radiates confidence and intelligence

Caprice - 20,
Friend with benefits - she is not stereotypically beautiful, but stunning as a physical creature, none the less. She is fit, her proportions are balanced, and she radiates a sensual as well as sexual presence