Review: Things I Know To Be True by Andrew Bovell at Chichester Minerva Theatre

Ewan Stewart (Bob Price), Imogen Stubbs (Fran Price) and Richard Mylan (Ben Price). Photo: Manuel Harlan
Ewan Stewart (Bob Price), Imogen Stubbs (Fran Price) and Richard Mylan (Ben Price). Photo: Manuel Harlan

Middle class families.

So often, the outside world views them as conventional, traditional, and normal. If normal exists at all.

But behind the neatly manicured gardens and the net curtains, they are rarely any of these things.

Peep inside the hearts of the household and they burst with multi-faceted complexes of insecurity, unrequited loves, ambitions unfulfilled. compromises half-concluded and a desperate fear of not being true to themselves.

There is love there too. Deep and abiding. And a bond which strains to the point of breaking and is only fully appreciated once it actually breaks.

Bovell’s play confines its plot and its cast to just such a setting. And in a meticulously produced piece of drama pricks the tears of Chichester’s middle class audience who see shadows of themselves.

Four children, all but grown up, want to experience new freedoms while their parents have more modest hopes - of them settling down nearby, enjoying barbecues on a Sunday, of grandchildren playing games on the lawn.

The parents want their children to have what they had. Only better.

The children seek something different.

Of course, it is all about identity, and sex, and the inevitable journey.

Imogen Stubbs as mum Fran Price beautifully blends that role of loving mother with a secretive defiance exposed by her own financial scrimping.

Ewan Stewart as father Bob stumbles between the conflicting emotions of what he knows and what he fears.

But it is Kirsty Oswald as daughter Rosie whose powerful stage presence pulls together the humdrum and makes it resonate across the studio floor.

“I know that things can’t remain the same no matter how much you want them to. I know that people aren’t perfect. Even the people you love. Especially the people you love,” she confides toward the end.

And as she says them, all these things we know to be true too.