Regional Reviews: Las Vegas
Things I Know to Be True
Andrew Bovell's Things I Know to Be True examines a family in flux. While the parents embody the traditional values of safety and stability (or appear to, at least), their children feel driven to experience something different, even if it comes at a cost. In contrast to Bovell's When the Rain Stops Falling, in which a family's shocking revelations play out over multiple generations and several continents, Things I Know to Be True focuses on the internal drama of those who are caught between what is familiar (and familial) and the uncertain promise that something better awaits them if they could only break free.
The conflicting impulses play out differently for each character. Rosie, the youngest, embarks on a solo trip to Europe for her gap year, pursuing adventure and romance against the advice of her worried parents. Her big sister Pip becomes restless despite her own seemingly perfect marriage and family. Older brother Mark is terrified that revealing his true self will cost him his parents' love. Youngest son Ben, the most coddled of the offspring, finds that youthful indulgence comes at a price. No longer able to control their children, or to shield them from the consequences of their actions, conventional parents Bob and Fran are forced to consider their own choices and to ask themselves whether they have loved too little or too much.
A Public Fit's production is blessed with a terrific cast. Coco Lane Rigbye shines as the not-yet-collegiate Rosie, whose opening monologue establishes her as our window into the family. Andrew Calvert palpably physicalizes Mark's transition from unmoored discomfort to sheer terror. As their father Bob, Timothy Cummings embodies the flat-footed acceptance of unfulfilled expectations, his arms hanging limply at his sides as he searches for something more to do in his perfectly tidy garden. Karen McKenney as Fran and Betsy Norton as Pip convey the familiar friction of a mother and daughter who are more alike than they care to admit. And Jake Staley, as the perennially boyish Ben, radiates both the charm and the devastation of Peter Pan's lost boys.
Under the direction of Ann-Marie Pereth and Joseph D. Kucan, dance is both a theme and a metaphor in this production. Fleeing boredom at home, Rosie pursues her romantic dreams on a dance floor in Berlin. Between scenes, family members come together and then separate in slow graceful choreography. Fran and Bob face each other stiffly in conflict, but dance in rapprochement. Even the set pieces join the dance, as family members gently spin them across the stage to serve one another's needs.
Belying its two-and-a-half hour running time, this whirligig of a production is compelling from start to finish. The characters' tensions are unflagging, but cut through with moments of organic and genuine humor.
Even the costume, set, and lighting designs reflect the yin and yang of the family dynamic. Unrelenting straight rows of roses march up and down the upstage scrim, while a stubbornly crooked gum tree upsets the perfect symmetry. The blood of family ties–and the wounds they can inflict–is reflected not only in the red-lit roses, but in the shades of red that permeate the characters' costumes. The circular playing area itself is like an arena, in which family members come together to confront, cajole, question and, most of all, care.
Things I Know to Be True, presented by A Public Fit Theatre Company, runs through April 25, 2022, at The Usual Place, 100 S. Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas NV. Performances are 7 p.m. on April 15, 18, 22, and 25, and 2 pm on April 16, 23, and 24. For tickets ($35-40) and further information, please visit apublicfit.org.