Things I Know to Be True

‘Things I Know to Be True’ is a stunning new Australian play, written in 2017 by Kalgoorlie born Andrew Bovell. Bovell is known for his tense and complex stories like ‘Lantana’ and ‘When the Rain Stops Falling’, and yet he was also a co-writer of the fun filled, ‘Strictly Ballroom’. Andrew is about to celebrate his 60th birthday in the next few days.

If you have two or three children or siblings, you will know that although you were all treated equally as children, the outcome can be vastly different. This Price family are very typical. This is NOT a dreary home sitcom, but a gripping play that will have you enthralled throughout, with possibly a few tears.

Presented by the Melville Theatre Company at the Melville Theatre on Stock Road in Melville, the season of this 135-minute production is being presented on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8.00 pm, until Saturday 12th November. There are Sunday matinées at 2.00 pm.

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The Scene:           2018. A suburban house and garden in Hallett Cove, in the southern suburbs of Adelaide.

The Set: Designed by Vanessa Jensen, the stage is split in two by the virtual outside wall of the sitting room. The back door (just the frame) leads out into a garden with its large aging gum tree and a wooden bench.

The interior is a loungeroom with a small kitchenette. It is minimalistic in design and furnishings. The walls and kitchen units are pure white. The carefully arranged pictures on the wall are blank white pictures in black frames. The round dining table has four chairs, all of which are matte black wood. A black leather chair is in the corner.

The effect is perfect, with no distraction to the intense story and magnificent dialogue.

Set construction:              Super quality by Lars Jensen, Peter Bloor, Sue Lynch, Ross Bertinshaw, Jacob Jensen and Barbara Lovell.

Lighting design:                Lars Jensen. Lars has a great eye for creating the seasons in the garden and moods of the characters. Fabulous use of colour tones.

Sound design:                    Lars Jensen has given us a rich soundscape. From the ice-cream van to the changing wildlife throughout the year. His recordings were not clipped (as is so often the case) and are clear. The music for the opening scene was a bass guitar and a rasping saxophone. At the end of the play, was a meaningful clip from Leonard Cohen.

Technical operator:         Vanessa Jensen – slick.

Costumes:           Michelle Sharp has selected attires that immediately confirm the person’s character.

Stage manager:                by the highly efficient, Clare Talbot.

Late teenager, Rosie (Marie-Eve Cigna) having just returned from a tour of Europe is back home in the garden, soaking in the security of the things she has known so well over the years. In secret she tells her surroundings of her adventurous trip, and the romance that took her into new territory.

Then comes the family’s welcome home greetings. From her loving, but at times overbearingly caring mum, Fran (Natalie Burbage) a hospital nurse and her retired father, Bob Price (Phil Barnett) who for decades worked in the local car factory, but who now spends most of his days manicuring his roses and cleaning up the already immaculate garden.

Moving to her father’s pride, the rose bed, is the elder daughter, Pip (Ruhama Rowe) happily married with two children and is an achiever at work. She tells us of her family and a new opportunity at work.

In the sitting room, is quiet shy Mark (Thomas McCracken) who has always been close to his younger sister, Rosie the two practically being like a set of twins. The next arrival is the older brother Ben (Thomas Dimmick), a born businessman, who by the age of 30 has already acquired significant wealth.

Join the strongly bonded Price family as they stagger their way – season by season – through a difficult year.

Each person’s story is not simply a quick hackneyed mention, but a richly written tale, interwoven with the whole family’s identity. Powerfully and yet sensitively directed by Vanessa Jensen. At times you will have plenty of laughs with the comedy, but then several cringes as you see your own relatives vividly paraded before you.

The caring, plodding father just accepts the family as it has always been. The domineering but intensely loving mother can see through her children. The children? Well, they are children, pushing their luck and developing their own characters. Every family member had their moment of intense drama, perfectly displayed by an extraordinarily strong cast.

With a fabulous well observed script, an innovative set, quality teching and dazzling acting, could it be that this multi-award-winning director has another ‘Play of the Year’ in her hands? An amazing play of the highest quality.

What do the audience do at the end of a poignant play like this?  Whoops of appreciation are out. Stunned silence would be understandable, but for the actors to know that they have been truly appreciated, a prolonged round of applause with perhaps your hands in the air whilst clapping could be the correct response.
A MUST-see production.