Opening Night’s verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Following on from a hugely successful and critically acclaimed 2016 tour of Australia and the UK Things I Know to be True presented by Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company South Australia arrives at Chester’s stunning Storyhouse this week.
Before the production begins an announcement is made informing the audience that unfortunately John McArdle is unwell and instead artistic director Scott Graham will take on the role of Bob, script in hand. This is of no detriment to the production, Graham clearly knows the play well and gives an excellent and moving performance, perhaps a little ironic and in keeping with the themes of Andrew Bovell’s play, life indeed is unpredictable and challenges frequently arise.
Bovell’s focus for the piece is the Price family, a family who on the face of things seem average and ordinary soon become complex and entirely captivating. We see life through the eyes of the four grown up children, sons and daughters to Fran and Bob, working class parents who strived to give their children opportunities and more than they had. The pressure to rise to these expectations however means cracks soon begin to show as their children struggle to be more yet are consumed with their desire to have more. Cracks become chasms as illusions and pretences are shattered and exposed as individuals begin to break under the burden of responsibility and crushing love.
This is a beautiful and deeply moving dissection of family life, where secrets are uncovered and resentments boil over, missed opportunities become deep regrets as the emotional fragility of the family is laid bare.
Added to Bovell’s outstanding script is Frantic Assembly’s superbly physical storytelling. Outstandingly choreographed movements add depth and meaning to the piece, they also offer the audience precious moments to reflect and process the struggles and bombshells playing out before them in this visually mesmerising production.
Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham’s direction is exceptional, beautifully staged and stunningly lit by Geoff Cobham. The extremely hard-working cast deliver an entirely flawless performance; each actor on stage fully embraces Bovell’s complex and multifaceted characters. Special mention goes to Cate Hamer as the families matriarchal Mother, Hamer is utterly compelling as Fran, strong, sharp and witty yet burdened by missed opportunities of what might have been and drowning with worry about her children.
Things I Know to be True is a deeply moving piece of theatre, laugh out loud funny in parts yet achingly sad in others, strikingly beautiful and visually captivating, powerful and poignant. Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company have delivered a perfect piece of theatre.
On at Chester’s Storyhouse until Saturday 11th November, tickets available here http://www.storyhouse.com/event/things-i-know-to-be-true