Andrew Bovell’s distressing play intricately unravels the issues of a fractured family. With minimalistic staging and a simplistic approach, it is a raw performance that is enhanced by Frantic Assembly’s powerful physical theatre.
It is a complex portrait of a mother and father and their four grown up children. Set in Australia, their youngest daughter Rosie (Kirsty Oswald) has just returned from travelling in Europe, she struggled with the loneliness, had her heartbroken, and didn’t find the experience as rewarding as she’d hoped it would be. Their eldest son Mark (Matthew Barker) is struggling with his identity, whilst the eldest daughter Pip (Natalie Casey) is trying to piece apart her broken marriage, all whilst their youngest son Ben (Richard Mylan) is making life-changing mistakes.
The language is poignant, charged with emotion and utterly poetic. Each character talks with such precision, their words are so connected to their emotion therefore as an audience we are completely immersed into the family’s lives. Each character is rich with layers and as they delve into their story, we are given insight into the mind of their highly complex character.
Imogen Stubbs’ portrayal of the hardworking and tiresome mother that draws the family together, is faultless. She captures the matriarchal aspect of the role, and the moments in which she battles with her eldest daughter Pip, are heartbreakingly fragile. Each word said is sharp and delivered with piercing intention. Although these touching scenes are dispersed with humour, the characters bounce off one another and they hold the witty remarks that families often make.
The father, Ewan Stewart, takes a caring approach to the role and challenges the ideas of changing generations and their expectations. He can’t understand why his children aren’t content with just getting married, having kids and living a serene life. The stark change in priorities and direction is huge with the latest generation, young people want to travel, be incredibly ambitious, and chase their dreams no matter the consequences. “I thought they’d be like us. But better than us. Better versions of us,” he says.
Known for their integration of highly moving physical theatre, Frantic Assembly have interspersed their movement within the production. They combine the physicality of tables and chairs rapidly sliding across the stage, shifting the mood and transitioning between scenes, with slow lifts and falls to create a balance of emotions. As they catch and hold each other, it represents the underlying support they have for one another as a family – something that is shown through physical expression on stage despite not being said.
Lighting and sound is used artistically to enhance the production, Geoff Cobham has used colour in a subtle way to bring the stories to life. With the consistent shift in mood, Cobham manages to cleverly reflect that through both the lighting and sound. The soundtrack to the production is light, but essential as it holds the tension in the piece and breaks up the scenes effectively.
Things I Know To Be True is an achingly tender production. With a harrowing ending, Kirsty Oswald delivers a heart-rendering final monologue that left the audience with glistening eyes and throbbing hearts.
On at the Lowry until the 12th of November and tickets can be found here.