Last weekend, I was given the amazing opportunity to go and watch Things I Know to be True by Frantic Assembly at The Lowry Theatre in Manchester. The play tells the story of a year behind closed doors in one family’s home, along with the emotional rollercoaster which comes with it. The acting was very physical, as performers were lifted up by their fellow actors to symbolise the emotional torment and struggle they were going through. The director had incorporated proxemics (the space between individuals) well as, during certain moments, the actors moved closer towards one another in order for the tension to build. Props were moved around the stage in a unique manner, most items had pieces of felt on the bottom of them to glide over the highly polished floor; this helped with quick scene changes and helped with a change in perspective making the audience see the scene through the eyes of different characters on stage. Throughout the entirety of the play I was mesmerised by the passion the actors put behind the words, it constantly kept me thinking. Lighting was used very well as it always drew your eyes to the exact area of the stage you needed to focus on at that moment in time, creating different atmospheres throughout the duration of the play. The play as a whole was deeply emotional and raw; it was truly eye opening and thought provoking in how individual decisions can break apart or bring a family closer together.
Lucy – Year 9
Things I Know to be True is a play about the life of one family through four siblings’ eyes. Rosie comes home from travelling to the security of her home and family, only to realise that it does not give her the same comfort as it once did because of the underlying problems facing her on her return; the plot involved many unexpected twists and turns. The play showed how the choices that the children make have a much bigger effect on their parents than you would think; the constant daily worry that exists as a parent and the helplessness of not being able to solve their problems when they are out of their control. The issues were very contemporary as it was an extremely thought-provoking play.
My favourite part was when the daughter sent a letter to her Mother and, as the Mother read the letter, the daughter acts out the things she is doing in the time it takes for her Mother to receive it. The daughter read the letter aloud while the Mother read it from behind a table. The daughter (with the help of the chorus) used movement to show her going about her daily activities: going to work, coming home on the train and then opening the door to her house. I thought this was very creative and made me want to use that idea to represent the passing of time when I devise work of my own.
The actors used long, moving monologues which made a character who seemed tough on the outside seem vulnerable and brought out the raw emotion they were faced with. It also taught me that no matter how happy someone seems, they may have problems buried deep down which they bottle up and never share with anyone, sometimes for years. It made me appreciate thing just that little more.
Emily – Year 10
‘Things I Know to Be True’ is a play based on the family dynamic, the fact that things are not always perfect but a family must stay together for they may not know what will happen to them next. The play begins with a man on stage, revealing a 'life-changing' phone call in the middle of the night. The conversation in the phone call is not revealed until the end of the play but it's reveal is completely unexpected and has a huge impact on the family. This gives the play a cyclical structure.
After this, the play jumps back in time and shows how a family can change over a year. Relationships break-up, family members have arguments and people change, but that's normal and that's one of the best things about the storyline of the play. It's incredibly realistic and the viewers finds themselves thinking about their life situations and how they can perhaps take things for granted. Each character has several monologues throughout the play, each like chapters gradually forming a story that begins to make sense more and more as the viewers continue to watch.
The play practically had two means of dialogue, these were speech and, the more interesting one in my opinion, a more physical interpretation. During characters monologues, a symbolic story is told by the dimly lit company in the background, creating beautiful visuals which have real meaning; they are at times very simple but the meaning behind them quite complex.
Things I Know to be True is a rare piece of theatre as it effectively makes the audience feel the characters’ pain, which is a very hard thing to do, but they do it effortlessly. When leaving the theatre, it makes the audience review their own life and it makes them realise that one day, all of us will have to say goodbye to someone we love.
J Jay – Year 9