top of page
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Twitter Basic Black
  • Facebook Basic Black
  • Google+ Basic Black

Sydney review - Things I Know To Be True: an Australian play for the ages

By Paul Kiely

Things I Know To Be True

By Andrew Bovell

Directed by Hailey McQueen

A New Theatre Production

New Theatre

542 King Street, Newtown

Season: 15 November – 17 December 2022. Bookings: Duration: 135 minutes (including interval)

Photos © Bob Seary

Family. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em!

Who has not felt this at some point in your life?

Things I Know To Be True is an outstanding contemporary look at an Australian family. At a time when the traditional family structure is pilloried by sections of the media and other alternative interest groups, Andrew Bovell’s superbly written play elevates the role of the family unit to a heroic level, warts and all.

The story centres around Bob and Fran and their four adult children. Bob was retrenched from his manufacturing job ten years ago and Fran continues as a nurse and homemaker. Youngest daughter Rosie has just returned from backpacking around Europe, having had her first love and heartbreak. “Everyone gets their heart broken at least once” says Bob.

Their other daughter Pip, married with children, has a deeper yearning for career advancement and travel. Son Mark is going through a real self-awareness period which threatens to completely lose his parents love. Their other son Ben is a corporate highflyer who is tangled up in an embezzlement scheme which has been put together by his ‘private school’ co-workers.

Over the course of a year, their ‘dirty linen’ is aired within the confines of the family home. The children value their parents’ opinion, sometimes supportive but other times confronting. Long held secrets are revealed which will test the strength of every relationship.

Bovell’s writing makes no judgement on the rights or wrongs of each family issue. Rather, differing points of view are offered, providing great fodder for post-theatre discussion.

The issues challenging Bob and Fran’s family may be typical; but theirs is not a typical family. Nor is anyone’s.

Things I Know To Be True is a study about communication within a family. The message is that time heals all wounds if love is allowed to reign.

Director Hailey McQueen keeps all actors on the stage throughout the performance. It is an acknowledgement that although some family discussions are private, each member should hear what the rest of the family are talking about as it affects them too.

James Bean makes a great father-figure of the character Bob. His appearance is classic Aussie down-to-earth; stern, hardworking, loving and understanding. He is the anchor of the family but his simple traditional ways sometimes fly against his children’s modern outlook. He doesn’t need the fancy coffee pod machine that Ben has bought him; he would prefer a cup of tea.

In the role of Fran is Kath Gordon. Her ‘matter of fact’ delivery of Fran’s persona was spot on. She captured the essence of this firm, demanding, judgemental and surprisingly scheming, mother figure.

The older sister Pip was played by Anne Wilson. A chip off Fran’s block, her strong-willed and competitive nature is a match to her mother.

Michael Smith portrays the sensitive and troubled personality of elder son Mark. Likewise, Ben Chappie as Ben plays the suit-wearing knock about role with relish, frustrated that his father withholds the affection so freely given to his siblings.

Skye Beker gives a mighty performance of the youngest sister Rosie. She loves her family. Her charming, trusting and sensitive attributes make her Bob’s favourite child. Or is she his daughter after all?

Each character can shine in a monologue which explains their life journey in the family. A constant theme is ‘happiness,’ to which Bob retorts “There’s that word ‘happy’ again, as if that’s what life’s about.”

The staging is very clever. Bob’s rose bush depicts the passing of time as it grows and then pruned in line with the seasons. There is the family dining table, the back yard and the paling fence, a symbol of the boundary that exists between family and the outside world.

It is refreshing to see a story about ‘maleness’ and ‘family.’

Things I Know To Be True has content, characters and controversies that we all can relate to. That makes it an Australian play fo


bottom of page