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Things I Know To Be True 2017 Tour

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/david-keyworth/49/b3a/b83
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Classy family drama returns to the UK
Lowry theatre goers are amongst those who will get another chance to see the critically acclaimed production - Things I Know To Be True (Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company South Australia).

The play, written by Andrew Bovell's, will tour the UK again between 27 September and 25 November. The first performances of the 2017 re-run will be at the Oxford Playhouse, It then moves to The Lowry, Salford (Quays Theatre, 3 - 7 October), followed by Leicester's Curve venue, The Mercury in Colchester, York Theatre Royal, Storyhouse in Chester, Nuffield Southampton Theatres. The 2017 tour will conclude at the Lighthouse in Poole.

Below is my review of the production at The Lowry, in November 2016:


From Sophocles to The Sopranos, family life has been fertile ground for dramatists. Things I Know to Be True opens with an unexplained scene, focused on Bob Price (Ewan Stewart). The sixty-three-year old, former auto factory worker, has been made redundant from his job but not from being a father and husband. His four children form a 'Greek Chorus' behind him.

Frantic Assembly, Lowry, Salford Quays, Chichester Festival, Imogen Stubbs
Ewan Stewart (Bob Price), Imogen Stubbs (Fran Price), Richard Mylan (Ben Price). Photo credit Manuel Harlan.


The phone is ringing and his daughter Rosie, recalling the night concerned, says: "You know if you answer your life is going to change."

Attention then switches to Rosie herself, who takes us on an emotional travelogue through her adventures in Berlin. When a holiday romance ends her holiday, she goes home to her family.

Home is Hallett Cove, an Australian coastal suburb. This takes a suspension of disbelief as the accents range from Scottish, to Yorkshire to Greater London and places in-between.

Frantic Assembly, Lowry, Salford Quays, Chichester Festival
Kirsty Oswald (Rosie Price). Photo credit Manuel Harlan.


The dialogue, however, is snappy and shifts between emotional bite and wit. The ensemble acting is strong and Imogen Stubbs (as professional nurse, mother and wife Fran Price) proves what an accomplished stage actor she is. She nimbly flips between blunt humour, motherly anxiety and emotional fortitude.

Frantic Assembly, Lowry, Salford Quays, Chichester Festival, Imogen Stubbs
Imogen Stubbs (Fran Price). Photo credit Manuel Harlan.


Each actor has his or her time in the spotlight, both dramatically and literally, to deliver a monologue. Everyone in the play is a time bomb, ticking anxiously towards decisions about their future and revelations, which will set off domestic fireworks.

Playwright Andrew Bovell, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 1992 film Strictly Ballroom, seems to be influenced by Alan Ayckbourn's expertise in bringing simmering tensions to the boil. Things I Know to be True also shows the influence of Chekhov, both in its concern with family life and its use of nature, in the form of a garden, to bring a poetic aspect to the drama.

Geoff Cobham (Set & Lighting Designer) deserves great credit for the way he harnesses light and darkness. Characters move in and out of focus and amber-tinted light bulbs hang from the ceiling, bathing the Price family in a sunset glow.

Nils Frahm delivers an excellent soundtrack. His music flows like a stream on a summer evening. It also fuses effectively with well-choreographed scenes where characters hold one of their siblings above their heads or the family join hands together.

Frantic Assembly, Lowry, Salford Quays, Chichester Festival
Photo credit Manuel Harlan.


Things I Know to be True, co-directed by Scott Graham and Geordie Brookman, is about how we cope when the assumptions our lives are built on are uprooted. Families can hold us back and pressure us to suppress our ambitions and aspects of our true nature. However, the play reminds us that family is where we go back to when the outside world neglects or discards us.

The play comes full circle as, in its final scene. We learn what the phone call was all about. Kirsty Oswald again distinguishes herself but her final monologue verged on being overwrought. Fewer, carefully chosen words and gestures might have been more poignant.

The staging and design of Things I Know to be True, is more cutting-edge than its structure and subject matter but Andrew Bovell makes us believe in and care about his characters, so that we are fully engrossed in the action until the actors take their bows.

Frantic Assembly, Lowry, Salford Quays, Chichester Festival, Imogen Stubbs
Ewan Stewart (Bob Price), Imogen Stubbs (Fran Price), Richard Mylan (Ben Price). Photo credit Manuel Harlan.


For information on tickets for the 2017 tour see:

Tour dates and contact details
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Why? Poignant drama that is a visual feast
When: Lowry - 3 - 7 October 2017. For other dates see https://www.franticassembly.co.uk/productions/things-i-know-be-true-uk-tour
Phone: 0843 208 6000
Where: Quays Theatre, Lowry Centre, Salford Quays
Cost: From £15.50
Your Comment
Looks like a great show! Nice to see what's going on at The Lowry
by Jay Johnson (score: 3|1210) 401 days ago
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