REVIEW: Things I Know To Be True, Nuffield Southampton Theatres

IT is a tribute to the show that, in all my evenings at the theatre, I can’t remember an audience more quiet than this one. Even coughs and sneezes were subdued in this engrossing and at times visceral production. The stillness was broken only by periodic laughter and widespread sobbing at the end.

Co-produced by Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company South Australia, the play presents us with a close, loving family comprising middle aged parents and their four grown up children. There follow revelations about each child and about the parents’ relationship that stretch the family ties.

The parents played by the excellent Cate Hamer and Ewan Stewart have to come to terms with the fact that, once children grow up, they are their own people, not ‘better versions of themselves’, as the father puts it. Your family may not be exactly like this one but you will recognise the situation and the relationships.

From the start we are aware that a tragedy is looming and the question of what business is going to be left unfinished hangs over all that happens. There are perhaps too many shocks crammed into two hours but Andrew Bovell’s writing, at times poetic and at others earthy, is nearly always believable. Many of the most touching moments are the quieter more domestic conversations.

Frantic Assembly are famous for their physical theatre but this was less evident than I expected. Once in a while actors moved furniture to accommodate others. On a few occasions they lifted someone into the air. This may have been intended to illustrate their inner emotional support and understanding of each other but, on this occasion, beautiful as the moments of physical theatre were, they sat uneasily alongside a riveting naturalistic family drama.


Things I Know To Be True runs until Saturday. Bx office: 023 8067 1771 or