BWW Review: THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE Fascinates at Arizona Theatre Company
With its spectacular American premiere production of playwright Andrew Bovell's THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE, Arizona Theatre Company achieves potentially its greatest impact on the National Theatre conversation. Originally produced and set in Australia, the play was reworked by Bovell to take place in the American Midwest, and if the stunned-by-magic audience reaction to it is indicative of its future, ATC, along with co-producer Milwaukee Rep, could be the tentpoles for one of next year's most talked about new plays.
THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE tracks a year in the lives of the Price family. It's entirely set in the backyard Rose Garden of Fran (Jordan Baker) and Bob (Bill Geisslinger), the parents of four grown children all at or approaching points of crises. Director Mark Clements and Stage Movement Director Julia Rhoads have combined efforts for an active, precise, fascinating staging. It moves like a Pac-man game with invisible walls. Characters chase and evade around the obstacles, then suddenly reverse who is chasing who. Displayed against the brilliantly beautiful designs of Scott Davis (scenic) and Jesse King (lights) it feels like a luminous, vivid visualization of an audio book, especially during the monologues. All four siblings at crisis-crossroads could, under other circumstances, be dramatic surplus, but with all of the visual successes at play, it remains compelling to the end.
With no agenda or sentimentality, the play probes the distance between the lives Bob and Fran envisioned for their children and lives they chose. Baker and Geisslinger are devastating in their sincerity as they move between support and resentment, anger and compassion. Kelley Faulkner (Pip), Kevin Kantor (Mia), Zach Fifer (Ben), and Aubyn Heglie (Rosie) are masterful in the production's heightened style. Frequent allegorical stage movement shifts the baseline on realism yet they perform the meticulous blocking almost always avoiding a rehearsed feel.
In an era when showing an impact nationally is more important than ever for a professional theatre company, ATC has delivered the next vehicle for articulate, progressive drama.
THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE plays at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix through June 2nd. Purchase tickets at www.herbergertheater.org/calendar/things-i-know-to-be-true/