Theatre review: Things I Know to Be True, Theatre Works

A family held together by love, but wracked by secrets.

In a close family environment, the truths that are held by family members are critical to its stability. In Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know To Be True, Bob (Ben Grant) and Fran (Belinda McClory) have built a seemingly perfect home environment with their four loving children. Their youngest, Rosie (Eva Rees), introduces us to this family through rose-tinted glasses. Over the course of the play, secrets start to come out and the truth as Rosie describes it is torn apart. 

Love is a central theme to this play. Bob and Fran have been together for decades and on the surface have everything a working-class couple in Adelaide could want. But is it love that is holding them together or is it the children? The interconnecting relationships between parents and children, and between the siblings, show that there are many different forms of love.

Rosie loves her family too much and that makes it hard for her to move on with her life. Each of her siblings has reached a point where this unconditional love of family is no longer relevant. They all hold secret truths that, as they are revealed, bring the family and the nature of love into question. 

The drama is played out via a mix of monologues and family interactions, which are beautifully acted by an excellent cast. The lengthy monologues in the play run the risk of being dull, but are delivered skilfully and fulfil their purpose of both showcasing character and advancing the plot. They help set the scene for the drama of the revelations and the family reactions, which are at times devastating. 

The play itself suffers, however, from trying to cram too much content into the one family environment, with so many different issues and a family member allocated to represent each of them. This results in the other children – Pip (Brigid Gallacher), Mark (Tomáš Kantor) and Ben (Joss McClelland) – being defined solely by the truth they reveal and not being as well developed as characters as Rosie and the parents are. A tighter focus may have been more impactful in a two-hour play. 

The production is set in the family garden. A fence at the back of the stage neatly represents the separation of the family’s world. This staging decision works well as it helps to define the safe home from the outside world that threatens to tear the family apart. The passing of time is hard to follow in the play and it would have helped to have some mechanism by which the audience could be informed of how much time has passed between scenes. 

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This production is recommended for its stellar cast, which does an amazing job of connecting with the material. Most audience members will find something to relate to in the content and something to take away with them. The play does try to do too much within the structure of one family, but what it does well is worth the time spent in the backyard of a working-class Adelaide family. 

Things I Know To Be True by Andrew Bovell
Theatre Works
Director: Kitan Petkovski
Set and Costume Design: Bethany J Fellows
Composition and Sound Design: Ian Moorhead
Lighting Design: Aron Murray
Production and Stage Management: Tiah Bullock
Intimacy and Inclusion Consultant: Bayley Turner
Sound Operator: Daniel Gigliotti 
Associate Sound Operator: Rachel Stone
Fight Choreography: Lyndall Grant

Cast: Belinda McClory, Ben Grant, Brigid Gallacher, Tomáš Kantor, Joss McClelland and Eva Rees

Tickets: $20-$50

Things I Know To Be True will be performed at Theatre Works until 4 May 2024.

Kim Hitchcock is a freelance writer based in Melbourne who has an interest in all art forms and enjoys exploring them locally and abroad. He has completed a Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne and can be reached at