Theatre Review: Things I Know To Be True

Shocking, hilarious and gripping, this Adelaide-based play is set to take on the world stage.

Presented by The State Theatre Company and Frantic Assembly and Australian Gas Networks
Reviewed 17 May 2016

Shocking, hilarious and gripping. The State Theatre Company’s freshest offering turns the family drama on its head, starting with a naïve heartbreak before spiralling into a dark horror. In an audacious partnership of script and performance, this Adelaide-based play is set to take on the world stage.

Photo: Shane Reid

Photo: Shane Reid

Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know To Be True confronts the suburban familial dysfunction all too familiar of modern life. As children grow and drift away from the family home, their lives become their own and the safety of the unit can be disrupted. Set in our small city of Adelaide, this can be paramount as the wonders of shinier interstate and overseas opportunities beckon the eager and young hearts elsewhere.

This is where the Price family’s drama begins. Rosie (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), their youngest, has spontaneously arrived home from a backpacking, self-discovery mission in Europe, so of course something must be wrong. If only they could hear their own foreshadowing.

While Bovell’s characters continually seek more from life, the Price family home in Hallett Cove is the play’s whole world. Geoff Cobham’s genius set starts small, at the kitchen table with all else laid bare. Yet, as the family grows in complexity, so does the domestic set, with a climax mirrored in the precious rose bushes in full bloom.

Photo: Shane Reid

Photo: Shane Reid

In a first-time collaboration between the State Theatre Company and the UK’s Frantic Assembly, a quintessentially Australian story is brought to life through mesmerising British theatrics. The funny, moving and beautiful narrative is transformed in a highly visual and physical piece. Through the directing of Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham, the story permeates with tenderness and depth. The audience is struck with the pain the characters feel and inflict on one another, as Nils Frahm’s composition subtly carries us through the seasons. As each actor delivers monologues exposing raw emotion, Frantic’s physicality lifts bodies between embraces of unspeakable hope and hurt. These moments of a dreamless dance are shocked back into reality by scenes drenched with kitchen-table bickering and garden-shed antics, until we descend and are left reeling in the deadening silence.

With this stellar cast, contemporary issues of sexual inequality, gender confusion, redundancy, glamorised crime and self-discovery are expertly enacted. The play’s standouts are in Paul Blackwell’s nuanced patriarch, finding strength in his ‘sneams’, and the fragile and fiery performance of Cobham-Hervey’s Rosie, down to her final howl.

With its human flaws and intricate relationships, Things I Know To Be True is an honest glimpse of life with value for every viewer. Underneath its humour and art lies a universal exploration of fear and love in an unmissable production.

Reviewed by Hannah Lally
Twitter: @HanLally

Season: 13 May – 4 June 2016.
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Duration: 2 hours with 20 minute interval.
Tickets: $32 – $59.00
Bookings: Bass


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