A word of advice about Things I Know to be True – do not read any reviews about this play. Just see it. Immediately, if not sooner. Do not risk any twist, turn or roundabout being ruined for you. Having said that, here’s my thoughts.
I went into this play with no expectations, having heard and read very little about it. I came out stunned, moved and awed by some of the most extraordinary theatre I’ve ever seen.
Written by Andrew Bovell, the play centres around the Price family who live a seemingly typical suburban existence in Hallett Cove. We follow the lives of parents Bob (Tony Martin) and Fran (Helen Thomson) and their four children Pip (Anna Lise Phillips), Mark (Tom Hobbs), Ben (Matt Levett) and Rosie (Miranda Daughtry) over the course of a year.
As each sibling recounts their story – a broken heart, a dysfunctional marriage, work troubles – the focus centres around how each of these issues impacts on Bob and Fran. Watching them struggle to, in equal parts, fix everything but also teach their children a valuable lesson – while wrestling with their own daemons – I can’t help but cast my mind to my own parents. The similarities are there – the constant worrying, the affectionate meddling, always being right – are these traits held by all parents? And how well do we ever really know them?
Things I Know to be True is perfectly cast with each performer holding their own in equal measure. While it is incredibly difficult to highlight any one particular performance, Thomson as Fran is exceptional. Quick witted, loving, tormented and at times cruel, Thomson’s performance evokes both disbelief and empathy as we are taken on this journey with her. Emotions ran high with the audience doubled over in laughter in parts, cheering the beautifully written dialogue in others, and gasping at the twists they did not see coming.
The focus of the set design was on the four rose bushes in the Price’s backyard, Bob’s pride and joy, and as the year unfolds the roses bloom and die with the changing season. This visual indicator reflects the change that unfolds throughout the play and throughout the family. As each of the children actively seek to move far away from this place which they call home, Fran asks the question utter by mothers (and fathers) the world over – did I drive them away?
Without giving away the ending or any of the major plot points, Things I Know to be True is a remarkable piece of theatre, emphasizing the significance of family, the impacts of change and the importance of acceptance. It will leave you shaken, amazed and with a desperate desire to reach out to your family and loved ones. Many people don’t mean it when they say it’s not to be missed – but seriously, you will regret not running out to catch this – this I know to be true.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Things I Know to be True runs at the Belvoir Theatre until 21 July 2019. For more information and to buy tickets head to the Belvoir Theatre website. Reviewer attended on 12 June.
Feature image: Heidrun Löhr