Things I Know to Be True at the Lyric Hammersmith
Australian playwright Andrew Bovell’s drama Things I Know to Be True returns to London after an acclaimed run in 2016. Directed by Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham, and in collaboration with innovative and award-winning theatre production company Frantic Assembly, the play tells of the unique stories within the Price family.
The introduction is stunning with its hazy dry ice, when the intermittent flashing lights stop, leaving everyone mesmerised in the dark expanse; all this is backed by the poignant music of German musician Nils Frahm, which is haunting and suspenseful.
Rosie (Kirsty Oswald) is away on her big European adventure, presently in Berlin, having left her home behind in Hallott Cove, Southern Australia. She exposits a long monologue of her trip and finding a special guy, who seems to be a dream incarnate, until a devastation leaves her yearning for home. Rosie is the epitome of a young woman trying to grow up and discover herself, and there is an endearing quality about her, one that many of us can relate to.
She returns home surprising her parents, Bob (Ewan Stewart) the peaceable father, and Fran (Cate Hamer) the fiery mother, who both fuss over their youngest child, Hamer having a motherly sixth sense. Soon their three other grown-up children appear, creating an atmosphere that is warm and intimate. Frantic Assembly’s unique take on set direction is exciting to behold, as chairs and tables are pushed across the stage to seat the characters. Pip (Seline Hizli) next tells of her struggles growing up, and the constraints with her mother; these excerpts are followed by those of her brothers.
Though the play is set in Australia and all the actors’ voices are quintessentially British, this doesn’t lessen the impact of the performance, and there isn’t a dry eye left in the house. Arguably, the sons’ stories could have been less predictable, with the omission of Bob saying, “Unless you told us you had decided to become a woman”, during his son’s personal revelation. However, Mark’s (Matthew Barker) story is incredibly relevant to today, with people from all corners of the world experiencing gender and sexuality issues.
The stark familial realism is ingrained in the piece, lyrical and poetic, with the disparate stories of the children’s individualities and the parents’ loneliness coming together in a heart-wrenching finale. Funny and engaging, with particularly stellar performances by Hamer and Hizli, Things I Know to Be True is an outstanding and humane drama. The piece is an insight into the universal themes of life – love, loss, the relativity of pain, and the complex yet beautiful parts in between – presenting Bovell’s script in a performance that is visceral as well as deeply relatable, and shows that, despite all that occurs to each of us, life goes on.
Photos: Manuel Harlan
Things I Know to Be True is at the Lyric Hammersmith from 11th January until 3rd February 2018. Book your tickets here.
Watch the trailer for Things I Know to Be True here: