Things I Know to be True

Feb 16 2024 | By More

★★★★☆      Captivating

Bedlam Theatre: Wed 14 – Sat 17 Feb
Review by Allan Wilson

Things I Know to be True by the Australian writer, Andrew Bovell, staged by Edinburgh University Theatre Company at the Bedlam to Saturday, is a less well-known piece, although Higher Drama students may know it intimately.

This captivating tale of the Price family in Australia, involving four adult siblings and their changing relationships with each other and their parents, provides six strong roles for the actors to demonstrate their talents, with humour, pathos, anger, gender identity and ultimately shared grief.

A scene from EUTC’s Things I Know to be True. Pic: Andrew Morris.

The play opens to Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat (a recurring theme) with four characters standing in formation on stage, describing the themes behind the play, sometimes in unison, sometimes cutting across each other.

Rosie, played by Eve Nugent, steps forward to describe her loss of innocence during a gap year trip to Europe, when she is seduced and robbed in Berlin. She decides to return to the familiarity and security of the family home in Australia. Nugent skilfully portrays Rosie as a sensible, though slightly naïve young woman, still trying to find her way in life.

When Rosie turns up unexpectedly, her mother, Fran (Izzy Pleasance), immediately assumes that something bad has happened, despite Rosie’s assurances, and calls the rest of the family to welcome Rosie home.

Pleasance plays nurse Fran as a loving matriarch, who wears her heart on her sleeve and always does whatever she can to protect the family. Her husband, Bob, is played by Angus Morrison as a family man in his early 60s, who, after being made redundant now seems content to potter round the garden. He adopts a passive role for much of the play but can be roused to anger when something doesn’t seem right.

A scene from EUTC’s Things I Know to be True. Pic: Andrew Morris.

Eldest daughter Pip, portrayed by Isabella Caron, is married with children and has recently been promoted at work, to become a government advisor in curriculum development. She has a lovely scene in the garden, initially alone, then with her mother, where she reflects on her childhood, then admits that she is no longer happy with her husband.

The older son, Ben, is played by Ben Pearson as a confident, ambitious young man, working in finance, though things fall apart for him in the second act, giving Pearson opportunities to show his skills.

Rose Sarafilovic uses great voice and movement skills playing younger son Mark, who has left his girlfriend, without explanation, only for all to be revealed as the drama intensifies.

Co-Directors Eve Hartley and Jack Greengross handle the transitions between calm scenes where the focus is on dialogue and the more intense, physical scenes very well. There are some slightly odd scenes where the actors adopt unexpected poses. These may be relics from the original Australian production for which Bovell and original Director, Geordie Brookman, went into the rehearsal room with nothing but a book of Gregory Crewdson photos for inspiration.

The set of EUTC’s Things I Know to be True. Pic: Andrew Morris.

Karolina Pavlikova’s simple set with the end wall of a house, a white, picket fence, a tree and a row of planters with red roses gives the actors space to perform, and has an interesting twist, with window panels on the wall being removed as characters move away.

Chloe Lannert’s costume design helps identify the various characters, with the nurse’s uniform worn by Fran, Ben’s dark suit, Bob’s white shirt and slacks. Lighting and sound are competently handled by Lighting Designer, Freya White, Lighting Assistant, Kiran Mukherjee and Sound Assistant, Luke Hardwick.

There are occasional elements of soap opera, with more drama than you might see in a year of episodes of Neighbours and Home & Away, in the lead up to its tragic ending.

But on the whole, this is a captivating production of an absorbing play, with its moments of high drama, humour, anger and grief, brought together by an accomplished group of performers.

Running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes (including one interval).
Bedlam Theatre, 11B Bristo Place, EH1 1EZ.
Wed 14 – Sat 17 Feb 2024.
Evenings: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.