At the heart of all good stories lies simplicity. But to describe ‘Things I Know’ as a simple story would do it a great injustice. We are all of us part of a family – some more functional than others. We all aspire to the perfect family unit, where parents raise their children to live happy, constructive lives and to be happy.
In truth, despite what spin we wish on it, all families are ridden with dramas, insecurities, and frailty. This play focuses on the Price family from Hallet Cove, south of Adelaide and it starts with the premise known to all parents: the late-night phone call, and the thoughts that run through your head as you struggle to the phone.
We jump to Berlin, where Rosie, the youngest of the Price family, has lost her iPad, €400 and her heart to a Spanish boy. But this is not the subject of a phone call. This is the beginning of Rosie’s (Kirsty Oswald) monologue introducing us to her family.
In a theatre full of teenagers (Frantic Assembly is a recommended theatre practitioner on UK curriculum) it was heartening to see them become engrossed in a story that appeals to all ages. As the young member of the Price family cringed on stage at the thoughts of their parents having sex – the cringing echoed throughout the auditorium.
We have all become used to actors rearranging stages in order to affect a change to a set, but in this production there was an almost balletic quality to the set maneuvers. Chairs slid, tables rotated, clothes changed seamlessly.
Then came the phone call. As unexpected on stage as it would be in real life. It left a lump in the throat and it was left again to the youngest to tell us the details. Rosie’s final monologue is delivered with just the right amount of pathos and feeling amid the realization that life is finite.
Good theatre should engage and move its audience – this production did that from the start.