Bob and Fran have worked hard to give their four children the opportunities they never had. Now, with the kids ready to make lives of their own, it's time to sit back and smell the roses. But the change of the seasons reveals some shattering truths, leaving us asking whether it's possible to love too much.
Things I Know To Be True is Andrew Bovell's complex and intense portrait of the mechanics of a family - and a marriage - through the eyes of four siblings struggling to define themselves beyond their parents' love and expectations.
Originally co-produced with physical theatre company Frantic Assembly, this contemporary piece is a touching, visceral and bold visual feast for the audience.
This play will be staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly Havant Arts Centre), East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Producers||David and Jacquie Penrose|
|Stage Manager||Jessi Wilson|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Ollie McKeown and Tasmin Halford|
|Physical Theatre Advisor||Jessi Wilson|
|Lighting Design||Roger Niven|
|Sound Design||Howard Alston|
|Lighting Operation||Roger Niven|
|Sound Operation||Howard Alston|
|Original Music||Archie McKeown|
|Set Design||Angie McKeown|
|Flyer Design||Archie McKeown|
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
"Things I Know To Be True" moved me profoundly when I first experienced it in 2016. I use the word 'experience' as this was a raw, visceral and often messy depiction of a family; a deep, unflinching dive into the lives of Fran, Bob, Pip, Mark, Ben, Rosie and Mia. The Price family are not perfect, their flaws and struggles over the course of the seasons bear testimony to this.
The production's heady mix of visual, physical and emotional charge combine beautifully with Bovell's lyrical and often poetic script to provide maximum impact. The collaboration with Frantic Assembly in the production ensured maximum emotional impact and truth.
Rehearsing with this cast and crew has required a real intimacy and group ownership and responsibility in bringing the characters and their complex relationships to life. We have shared laughter, tears and moments of realisation. As we questioned many of the things we thought we knew to be true…
For my sister Kerry x
Angie last appeared on the Bench stage as "Di" in "Di, Viv and Rose" in February 2020. Angie's debut performance for Bench was in "Sive" (Feb 2017). She has also appeared in "Twelfth Night", "Mark My Words", "Hedda Gabler", "Supernova 8" and "A Bunch of Amateurs". Angie was our Stage Manager for "Pride".
"Things I Know To Be True" is Angie's directorial debut for Bench Theatre.
I love seeing a show for the first time; no foreknowledge, no expectations, no preset ideas. One comes to it fresh with an open heart and an open mind.
The show itself certainly has an open heart; no gripes from me on that front. As a piece of theatre, however, it expects a lot – too much, indeed - from its audience, principally in the form of credulity. We are presented with a family – parents and four kids – who demonstrate between them just about every conceivable familial situation that Life could ever throw at you. For that reason, I must confess, I felt patronized by the piece itself and can't say I actually liked the play.
But note that. I didn't like the play. The performance, however, is a different matter altogether.
First-time director Angie McKeown has, with the help of six able performers, created something very fine indeed. As parents Bob and Fran, David Penrose and Laura Sheppard are exemplary. Their relationship is beautifully drawn and the subtle highlights the actors add to McKeown's direction are a joy to behold. It's not the perfect relationship; it verges, however, on being the perfect portrayal of such.
As the four children, each experiencing a different hiccup in their lives, Jeff Bone, Alex Eels, Aaron Holdaway and Katie Watson give honest, straightforward, ungarnished performances. All four are firing on all cylinders and – having seen them all work before – think they're all giving of their very best here.
However, the performance that stands out is that from Holdaway. Known, principally, for his comedy work, he gives here a sympathetic, understanding performance of a man facing a situation in his life that few of us ever will – and he plays it beautifully.
You may, like me, find the play unlikeable but I suspect that, also like me, you will find the performance sublime.