Reviews round-up: Things I Know To be True

A reviews round-up for Things I Know To be True at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.

The UK premiere of Andrew Bovell’s Thing’s I Know To Be True has opened to widespread acclaim at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.

Co-directed by Geordie Bookman and Scott Graham, the show is a co-production by the State Theatre Company of South Australia and Frantic Assembly.

“Beautifully staged” (Guardian) the production “is a thing of beauty” with “writing so powerful that only very rarely do you feel that some moment is issue- rather than character-driven” (Independent). The staging is “fluent without being grandiose” (Evening Standard) and “the movement is used sparingly and piercingly to physicalise subtext.’ (Independent.

The production features strong performances from Imogen Stubbs who “intelligently invests her [character] with a rasping anger that conceals her passionate love for her fractured family”, Ewen Stewart who plays her redundant husband and Kirsty Oswald and Matthew Barker who play two of their children.

Things I Know To be True runs until 1 October at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.

Here’s what the reviews had to say


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“This is a thing of beauty. Andrew Bovell’s drama is a slow, gentle, and extraordinarily punishing excavation of family skeletons, all the more bruising since – with a couple of exceptions – the events are entirely humdrum and domestic. Bovell offers us a portrait of family life in all its gory reality – and it is an absolute gem.” “What Bovell captures so beautifully are the everyday familial interactions – including the unbearably heavy spite that can erupt at a moment’s notice. Everyone carries grudges, sleights and insecurities, and families know them.” Chris Bennion, Telegraph - The Daily Telegraph
"Inventive without being grandiose” “Scott Graham and Geordie Brookman share directing duties and have crafted something appealingly tender. The staging is fluent — inventive without being grandiose, and at times genuinely beautiful. Gorgeous music by Nils Frahm underscores the mix of warm humanity and sadness. While the storytelling occasionally feels schematic, there’s an intelligent attentiveness to the little details of domesticity, some sour and others honeyed.”  Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard - The Evening Standard
'Genuinely haunting and fervently recommended' A beautiful and painfully perceptive portrait of a family and the frictions that arise when grown-up children try to push beyond the confines of their loving parents' expectations “the bite of psychological realism and the glowing ache of stage poetry are brought together unforgettably. The piece is especially acute about the anguish on both sides when our children's choices challenge those we made ourselves or awaken prejudices that we never knew we had.  “the writing is so powerful that only very rarely do you feel that some moment is issue- rather than character-driven.  “ “Played out on a spacious garden set overhung with a constellation of molten-tear light bulbs (Geoff Cobham did both splendid designs), the production – directed by Geordie Brookman and Scott Graham --- is eloquent on all levels.”  “The movement (a Frantic Assembly trademark) is used sparingly and piercingly to physicalise subtext– the mother, airborne in erotic reverie, hoisted aloft by the others, say, or the father Bob (a pitch-perfect Ewan Stewart) leaning at a fearful 45 degree angle towards an ominously ringing telephone.  This is a staging where Mark can stand on the shed under his own personal downpour to emphasise how he's been cut off from the others by his secret or where singing a Leonard Cohen song at the same time though half a world away can intimate the echoes between the decisions that once confronted the mother and now her daughter.” Paul Taylor, Independent - The Independent
“Frantic Assembly brings its familiar brand of movement to the production, but there's something especially touching about that tactility here. The way the family lift and support each other between scenes is a physical expression of what they fail to say. While they drive each other away with words, they hold on so tightly with their bodies. This use of movement is matched by six wonderful performances. Imogen Stubbs’ Fran is particularly strong, a slightly spiteful harridan of a matriarch whose bitterness at the inescapability of middle class life erupts in occasionally callous interactions with her children. Then there’s Ewan Stewart as dad Bob, a wellspring of quiet wisdom and abundant love. Bovell captures the clash between duty to one’s family and to oneself in these rich characters.” “It’s a beautiful production, with a hell of an ending – a powerful look at the coexistence of narcissism and unconditional love in family life.” Tim Bano, The Stage - The Stage


“Beautifully staged but strikes me as spurious in its belief that suburban sadness is the same the world over.” “The production, however, is a pleasure to watch. South Australia’s Geordie Brookman and Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham, as joint directors, transform the stage from an empty space to a suburban garden and synthesise text and movement. “ T”he hands that caress Rosie’s body during her opening monologue perfectly evoke the presence of her fly-by-night lover, while the later airborne lifting of Fran Price balletically captures the suppressed erotic dreams of a working mum.” “Fran is very much the dominant figure and Imogen Stubbs, playing her with a strong north-country accent, intelligently invests her with a rasping anger that conceals her passionate love for her fractured family. Ewan Stewart is equally good as the redundant Bob and at one point, as if in expression of vanished hopes, tilts his body forward at an angle of 45 degrees like the old music-hall comedian, Little Tich. Kirsty Oswald as the roving Rosie and Matthew Barker as the sexually uncertain Mark also impress in a strong cast.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

Date: 17 September 2016
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