Things I Know To True is set in Hallett Cove, in the home of the Prices, who, on the surface, appear to be a typical suburban family – with husband and wife Bob and Fran married for over 30 years and their children grown to adulthood, and their youngest daughter, Rosie travelling on her own, overseas, presently Berlin. The following trailer introduces you to the not so perfect Price family - in full flight (warning: contains coarse language).
Zanny Edhouse is perfectly cast as Rosie Price whose deep love and empathy for her immediate family knows no bounds, especially when it comes to her 'favourite brother', Mark. This is where I'll tell you that all character roles are perfectly cast: Leighton Vogt is the right choice for Mark, as he transitions to becoming Mia. What was ultimately symbolic of this relationship was the moment when Rosie exchanged her watch for Mark's watch, signalling the departure of Mark and the arrival of Mia and Rosie's support and acceptance of Mark in his life-changing (and gender-changing) decision.
Cheryl Douglas brilliantly portrays Fran and Bob's daughter Pip and embodies the role of an equally frustrated daughter and mother to her own two younger children and wife, to her easy-going husband, Steve. This is where the term contemporary comes into play – Pip's a perfect example of a working mother in this day and age, desperately trying to realise her career and life ambitions whilst balancing her family life. The ongoing tension that exists between Pip and her mum Fran is palpable and real to life. Chances are you know someone just like Fran, Pip (or both).
If you're a fan of the late and great Leonard Cohen, you'll appreciate the following video in which the backing track features Cohen singing Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye. Cohen and his work is referenced throughout Things I Know To Be True and Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye is central to an emotional memory Pip and Fran exclusively share.
Another relatable character is stoic husband and father Bob Price – Bob was made redundant when the local car manufacturer he'd spent his working life with closed, resulting in an early, unplanned retirement for Bob. Tim Williams is Bob and as Bob, it's immediately evident he's redundant in more ways than one, complacently filling his days with school-pick ups and maintaining his treasured garden whilst being the yang to Fran's yin.
Speaking of Fran, it was completely logical to cast seasoned actress Nicole Rutty in the lead role of multi-tasking matriarch Fran Price. Fran is a working wife, mother and grandmother – a qualified nurse, she's spent her adult life caring for and putting everyone else first, before herself. Rutty has a true flair for making a role her own - showing Fran as a woman who pulls no punches and acts upon her mother's intuition which is often proved to be true.
Joshua Coldwell completes the Price family as Ben Price and Fran's 'favourite' – now living independently (and likely beyond his means), Ben embodies the role of an adult son who relishes being doted on by his mum. Much to Pip's disgust, Fran still washes and irons Ben's work shirts ("as no one else irons them as good as Mum"). Ben lives a fast-paced life and loves nothing more than spending money and buying new gadgets and appliances for his parents (including an electric leaf blower for Bob and coffee pod machine which Bob can't seem to master).
In Things I Know To Be True, Bovell has masterfully created relatable characters and gritty dialogue, providing a descriptive foundation for set design – especially in the hands of acclaimed Set Designer Ole Wiebkin who has collaborated with Director Geoff Brittain on a number of theatre productions over the years. To top it all off, Ray Trowbridge (Chairman of The Rep) is on board as Stage Manager.
Taking all of the above into account and from observations of and feedback from the opening night's audience (of which I attended), St Jude's Players production of Things I Know To Be True succeeds in engaging the audience, through brilliant set design, lighting, sound, direction and raw, emotional, flawless performances, within the sanctity of St Jude's Parish Hall.
Why? St Jude's Players production of award winning SA playwright Andrew Bovell's 'Things I Know To Be True' is directed by Geoff Brittain & is one of the finest theatre productions you're likely to see this year (in both amateur & professional theatre)