Writer: Andrew Bovell
Directors: Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham
Reviewer: Abbie Rippon
Having risen to significance with productions such as Othello and Beautiful Burnout, and their work on the multi-award winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Frantic Assembly has a lot to live up to with their new production Things I Know to be True. Well, there is no need to wait for the answer… It is exquisite.
Andrew Bovell’s familial writing brings real warmth and humour to the piece, which follows a year in the life of the Price family. The familiarity of the family’s tiffs and conversations, finishing each other’s sentences and answering questions aimed at others, it is gorgeous, heart-warming and eerily recognisable. This could be any family, your family, which makes you warm to the characters even more.
The six cast members are a superb ensemble, as is traditional for Frantic Assembly’s productions. The work abounds with choreographed movement, which is slick, polished and allows the piece to flow between time and place with delicate ease.
Imogen Stubbs and Ewan Stewart make a gorgeous contrasting pairing as Fran and Bob Price, nearing retirement age, worrying in equal measures, but showing it in different ways, about their four grown up children. The twists and turns of their relationship are beautifully played out on stage.
Natalie Casey’s dry and guarded interpretation of Pip has the audience in tears of both laughter and sorrow as she unveils Pips hidden secrets and desires. Matthew Barker and Richard Mylan and Mark and Ben are as unalike as many brothers often are, again, each has a secret hold and each actor plays this with a subtlety that brings a great deal of truth to what might be regarded as a very stylised performance. Playing Rosie, the baby of the family, Kirsty Price has a gorgeous sense of innocence as the protected younger sibling. It cannot be expressed how much we warm to the family as the play progresses; Bovell’s first-rate writing and the actors’ characterisations meld beautifully together.
Equally as striking as the writing and performances is Geoff Cobham’s ingenious lighting and set design. The lighting is so precise and works so beautifully with each moment on stage – this is an excellent example of director and design working in succinct harmony. The set, which may appear somewhat simple, beautifully demonstrates the passing of time and movement from place, to place for the Price family. The set and props have the wonderful attribute of appearing quite humble and straightforward, but there are so many complexities behind them; it is a real testament to the designer that his designs work with such flawless ease but at the same time add to the sense breath-taking awe one gains from the production.
This is one of those must-see productions; while this show is touring and there is an opportunity to see it, take it. You are guaranteed a memorable evening.
Runs until 5 November 2016 | Image: Contributed