Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know To Be True is bought to us for its third tour by the UK’s critically-acclaimed Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company South Australia production. Directed by Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham, we are shown how things are never as they seem. The seemingly perfect Price family are not-so perfect as we look deeper into their struggle to get by in the ever-changing world. We follow Fran and Bob Price and their four fully grown children, Rosie, Pip, Ben and Mark, who are all trying to find their way in life. The story starts with a strong monologue held by Kirsty Oswald as Rosie, opening up to us about how she had her heart broken during her travels in Europe. This speech is genuine, characterful and touching. The subsequent scenes follow with a similar pattern. We watch Rosie, Pip, Ben and Mark unfold their hidden realities to their family. Bovell’s writing is truly commendable and the talented ensemble cast couldn’t have portrayed a truer family. It is your family – it is everyone’s family.
Cate Hamer as Fran Price, the mother we all can identify, is remarkable. The depth of her character is impressive; she is always irate yet kind and well composed yet constantly in a muddle. This works wonderfully with husband Ewan Stewart (who stepped in as Bob Price due to John McArdle’s ill health). Stewart is quieter but not short of humour, he shows struggle to talk about his feelings and shows stubbornness when it comes to the changes in his children’s lives. The parents are stuck feeling that they thought their children’s lives should be like theirs. As a millennial, for the first time I understand where parents are coming from, as if they were mine. Surely, children owe that to their parents? “Getting by is the point”, Bob Price claims. In world where ‘settling’ for something isn’t a thing anymore, one could question: Are we becoming a selfish generation?
Matthew Barker as Mark Price has the hardest job; his identity struggle is relevant and important. With the little stage time, the subject matter is only touched on delicately highlighting each generations view. With an array of sub-plots connecting into one, I would have loved to seen more. Each story could be deepened into a play of its own. A positive thing, I must say, as it lets our imagination run wild. I can’t stop thinking about it now.
The lighting and set design is simply beautiful. The lighting is used sparingly, but it is delightful to the eye when it is used. Although the set may seem simple, there has been much more thought into the set than meets the eye. The beautiful rose trees that blossom throughout as the family weaken. The space accounted for slick table sliding stage transitions and graceful moments of movement which reflect strength and powerlessness at the same time. As the ending approaches, all that is heard is sniffs and snivels. Although what occurs may have been foreseen at some point throughout, it doesn’t take away from the utterly heartbreaking message it leaves us with. Is love really enough? Do we need to love more? Or, maybe loving too much is the issue. This is a striking production that plays on your minds for hours, days (and maybe even weeks) after seeing it. - Holly Kellingray