Things I Know to Be True at the Lyric Hammersmith
Life for the Price family is changing at a hurtling pace: more than ever they need a foothold in the chaos of existence. Sometimes, they need to take a breath and count the things they know to be true. This co-production between Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company of South Australia depicts the tenderness but also the teeth-gnashing frustration of familial bonds. Perceived favouritism, the end of childhood, parental duty – it’s a picture few of us will fail to recognise.
“This garden is the world. Everything that matters happened here,” says Pip, shortly before revealing to her horrified parents that she plans to move to Canada. The childhood home evokes both nostalgia and a longing for escape. Bob and Fran Price find it their daily duty to counsel and cajole their brood as each one teeters between these two sentiments. As each of the children come to their parents with their own dilemma, Things I Know to be True runs the risk of coming over like a GCSE “issues” play, but the authenticity of the characters keeps cliché at bay.
For Frantic Assembly, the story is the priority. It’s the reason they cast actors instead of dancers for their roles. In this performance, Andrew Bovell’s dense and deeply human script is enacted naturalistically, with only a few physical theatre moments. Unlike Frantic’s production of Othello, which is highly stylised, Things I Know is an understated piece that uses dance elements to gently underpin its themes.
These elements create some beautiful moments: the youngest daughter Rosie, in the throes of love, is borne high above the heads of the others; Bob, the father, leans at an impossible angle towards an ominously ringing telephone.
The cast of six brings the Price family to life with aplomb. Natalie Casey (Hollyoaks, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps) gives the standout performance, with a touch of kooky humour and some heart-rending moments of understated melancholy.
Geoff Cobham’s set is a slice of pretty suburbia, amped up into the sublime thanks to the 200 or so cylindrical light bulbs suspended above the stage, taking turns to glow. The lighting design is a treat, at times washing one desolate figure in a blue chill while another stands close by bathed in yellow warmth.
This show perfectly nails the affection, the humour and the excruciating anguish of a family’s relationship. It’s as claustrophobic as a tight hug.
Things I Know to Be True is at the Lyric Hammersmith from 10th September until 1st October 2016. Book your tickets here.
Watch a sneak peak from the rehearsal room of Things I Know to Be True here: