REVIEW: Things I Know To Be True
By Peter Grant
Life is too short. .. how many times have we heard that? Or it’s not a bowl of cherries or bed of roses. Our dreams can sometimes turn into nightmares.
Writer Andrew Bovell’s bitter-sweet play, premiered in Adelaide in May, is now touring the UK with a very strong British cast. This very slick co-production by Frantic Assembly and the State Theatre Company of South Australia switches from very funny moments to pure tendereness and poignancy to shattering bleak scenarios. It is Set over one year and eacH season brings many changes. The six actors display imaginative, ballet-styled sequences. They lift fellow actors gracefully into the air while innovatively handling props such as a kitchen table with remarkable dexterity. An inventive set from Geoff Cobham transforms magically with the aid of colourful lights providing suitable mood-enhancing backdrops. Lighting is indeed ‘spot on’ throughout. Co-directors Scott Graham and Geordie Brookman offer the physical (Frantic’s trademark) and a striking visual look in this multi-layered work.
Four siblings unravel their own life tales. Pip, played by Natalie Casey, portrays an unhappily married woman who is prepared to gamble with her emotions. Rosie (Kirsty Oswald) is heart-broken after a holiday romance in Berlin. She is a dreamer who finds on her return that not everyone is sympathetic to her self-made plight. Mark (Matthew Barker) confesses all. His sexual personality dilemma is at the point of no return and he needs to tell someone – anyone – about his planned life-changing future in Sydney. And there’s sharp-suited, gung-ho Ben (Richard Mylan)who cannot hide the fact he is more style over substance. The parents – Bob and Fran Price – are living suburban life. They even talk of spicing up their twilight years with sexy adventures. Yet they appear to have their own worries and problems. Imogen Stubbs, one of the UK’s finest, versatile actresses plays Fran the feisty mum and hard-working nurse. Her delivery with sharp dialogue is fautless. Ewan Stewart, as retired husband Bob, is likeable from the moment he first appears dazed on stage in his bedroom underwear. All is made clear later in the play.
His character, a dab hand at making tea provides early humour. Some earthy language from mum and dad both shocks and surprises to great effect. Their joint reactions to the collapse of the lives around them (including their own) is powerful theatre. Bob loves his greenery but hates modern contraptions. He simply wants an easy life. His realist wife is the oustpoken one in the family even though she admits – behind his back – that Bob is her rock. But why is she saving money… for the
rainy days to come?
Nils Frahm’s music is perfect for this striking piece of storytelling – a tinkling piano, at times, sound like tears. Six rose bushes symbolise the six people who discover that nothing in life stays the same.
Until November 5
Things I Know To Be True (photography by Manuel Harlan)