Things I Know To Be True

April 25, 2024 by Alex First
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A Melbourne theatre review by Alex First

Belinda McClory and Ben Grant feature in the family drama Things I Know To Be True
Photo by Andrew Bott Photography

A loving but dysfunctional family is put through the wringer in Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know To Be True.

Bob Price (Ben Grant) has worked from the age of 16.

Now 63, he spent 30 years at a car manufacturing plant before he accepted a redundancy package four years ago. A keen gardener, he is generally empathetic and caring.

His wife Fran (Belinda McClory) is a nurse, cluey, but hardheaded to the point of rudeness.

They have four adult children – two boys and two girls.

The youngest, Rosie (Eva Rees), who still lives at home in Hallet Cove, a coastal suburb of Adelaide, hasn’t worked out what she wants to do with her life.

She just had her heart broken during her gap year, at the end of a three-month European trip that was meant to last longer.

Their other daughter, Pip (Brigid Gallacher), is the eldest child in the family. Married with two daughters, she has fallen out of love with her husband.

32-year-old Mark (Thomas Kantor) has broken up with his girlfriend of three years, but he won’t say why … at least, not at first.

Ben (Josh McClelland), 28, is in financial services and has just bought a flash European car.

Revelations and missteps abound, as the shocks just keep on coming in Things I Know To Be True.

Bovell, who wrote the excellent multi-award winning 2001 Australian film Lantana, is adept at crafting evocative word pictures.

He does so frequently throughout this play, which – although unashamedly dramatic – is peppered with humorous interludes.

In other words, the actors have much to work with, but they still have to produce to win over an audience and that they do.

It starts with a highly convincing monologue from Eva Rees, who as Rosie explains what happened to her in Berlin.

As soon as Rosie arrives home, she is overwhelming by her smothering family, that immediately recognises all is not right.

Through their interactions we get to know elements of each of their lives, as well as their respective personalities.

As Pip, Brigid Gallacher comes across as resolute and opinionated.

Belinda McClory is a tower of strength and vitriol as mother Fran.

Ben Grant is respectful and passionate as father Bob.

As Ben, Joss McClelland is self-centred and arrogant.

While channelling warmth, Tomas Kantor, as Mark, has long been hiding a secret, one that will shake his parents to their core.

With props kept to a minimum, a high three-sided wooden fence, representing the backyard of the family home, constitutes the set.

Adroit use of light and shade, with potent sound design help illustrate mood shifts.

Director Kitan Petkovski’s steady hand ensures a memorable night of theatre in which the screws are tightened and family life is far from harmonious.

Things I Know To Be True is on at Theatre Works until 4th May, 2024.

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