Families are real. We all have stuff we go through. As parents  we do our best in raising our kids. We have our dreams planted in our little seeds in hopes that some day, one day, they will be the best version of us. Or better. We were told many times over that the generations that come after us will fair better than we did. Just like our parents believed in us. But that vision doesn’t always take the journey we expect. We will get there…or not.

Things I Know To Be True –a bittersweet play by written by Andrew Bovell is now here in Toronto at the CAA Theatre. It is a stunning piece of theatre that grabs your attention the moment you gaze upon the set design. A kitchen that looks and feels very familiar right to the stove and the momentos on the fridge. A backyard with the old tree similar to the one in ours growing up. The perfectly pruned flowering bushes that line the fence. The folksy music playing as you get comfortable in your seat. It’s all so familiar and it feels like home.

Synopsis:

A poignant family drama with universal resonance, Things I Know to be True is the story of a year in the life of the Prices, a seemingly typical modern suburban family. Bob (Tom McCamus) works on the assembling line at a car factory and Fran (Seana McKenna) isa registered nurse. They have struggled to raise four children — Rosie (Alanna Bale), Pip (Christine Horne), Ben (Daniel Maslany) and Mia (Michael Derworiz). Now in their sixties, with their children grown and independent, the couple looks forward to their retirement years. But a parent’s job is never finished, and as the seasons change, Bob and Fran find themselves guiding and supporting their children as they each face life-altering changes that shake the foundation of the once stablefamily home. Some of the forces that change this family’s life are out of its control, such as new technology and the advancement of an encroaching global economy. Some are very personal. With insight and humanity, Bovell has tapped into the poetry, beauty and tragedy of everyday life to create a deeply moving play about familial love in many of its forms — at times comforting and supportive, at others suffocating and destructive.

The play runs over 2 hours and it moves swiftly with a cast that naturally feels like a family. It’s easy to relate to at least one character whether it’s a reflection of someone in our own family or someone we are close to. The script opens the door for many conversations, thoughts and raw emotions. At times it was humorous and then at other times it had audience members surrender to tears.

Each character has their own deeply moving story starting with Rosie, the youngest in the family who, in her early 20s, is on the path of discovering her purpose in life and where she wants to be. But she’s very much the one who takes everything in as she’s the constant in nearly every scene. As life unfolds for her siblings and her parents it’s in her eyes that make me wonder what weight she must feel on her shoulders — how she views her life that’s really just beginning measuring up to what her older siblings had gone through and continue to.

I was naturally drawn to the character of Fran, who I can most relate to as a mother.  The woman who is spent all her life doing everything for her family  and who can be depended on to always be there. But she is also her own person and with stories of her own.

This play had me reflecting on life. I’m looking at my parents differently. I can now understand that quiver in their voice asking if everything is okay when I call at odd times and me sighing with a “I’m an adult now!” whenever they give me advice on life.

I’ll still cringe at mom and dad’s  “I told you so” moments without them actually having to saying a word. (Why are they always right?)

But I’ll be trying to see life through their eyes and in the moment. I also now understand why my parents won’t let go of their house and all the memories it holds.

I am cherishing our own family conversations with our kids around the kitchen table while keeping an eye on how the world evolves in their lives. My hope for them is to be happy and healthy. I wish for them to approach life and love with integrity. And to know that goodness from the heart is the path to always take even if there might just be a few detours along the way.

This is an incredible play with impeccable performers that is truly unforgettable. See it family or friends — or even alone like I did.

I am saving this from Philip Riccio, Director and founding Artistic Director of The Company Theatre (from the programme notes)…

“As we live our lives, it can be too easy to forget how precious every moment we have is. The liveness of theatre is one of those rare things that at its best can viscerally inspire you to cherish those moments a little more fully. And to love your people a little more deeply.”

Things I Know To Be True is now on stage at the CCA Theatre (651 Yonge Street, Toronto) until February 19, 2013. Tickets range from $50 – $99 (rush seats also available if you find yourself looking for something last minute to see — you won’t regret it). Visit www.mirvish.com for details and to purchase tickets.

More about the play…

Premiered in 2016 in Adelaide, Australia, produced by the State Theatre Company and the U.K.-based physical theatre company Frantic Assembly, the play was the eagerly awaited new work by one of Australia’s premiere playwrights and screenwriters. Andrew Bovell, whose past works include the international hits Speaking in Tongues and When the Rain Stops Falling, wanted to create something differently. He suggested he work with Geordie Brookman, the arstic director of the State Theatre Company, and a group of actors to workshop a play suggested solely by a book of photos by Gregory Crewdson, who is famous for his cinematic and eery images of the decay of small-town America.
 
From that starting point, and from a diverse collection of other source materials that were discovered during the show’s workshop creation period, Bovell fashioned a play about a family attempting to come to terms and find contentment in a world that is constantly changing, in ways both surprising and expected.
 
Things I Know to be True played to both popular and critical acclaim in Australia and then on an extensive UK tour, including two engagements at London’s prestigious Lyric Hammersmith Theatre.