Storytelling school

GBPT’s “Things I Know To Be True” is Outstanding Storytelling

Great Barrington Public Theater Regional Premiere The things that I know to be true is a great epic family drama that you don’t often find in theaters lately. Although there are only six characters, they are all members of the Price family, and they all have overwhelming fears, anxieties, and desires that force them to act in constantly surprising ways.

The play opens with the youngest, Rosie (Raya Malcolm), suffering the consequences of a rash decision to travel alone to Europe to grow up. We meet her in a rainy Berlin train station, where she is miserable in her wet socks as she tells us about the Spaniard she fell in love with on the dance floor, with whom she ended up spending three days in a hut to eat cereal before…

Bovell is a masterful storyteller, and all of his characters have plenty of opportunity to regale us with incidents and accidents, clues and allegations, which makes it difficult to review because I don’t want to spoil any of the fun of this captivating play. , and it’s the joy of surprise listening to these imperfect and adorable creations that describe the twists and turns that life can take.

Raya Malcolm, Jo Michael Rezes, Liz Hayes, David Keohane, Corinna May/Tristan Wilson

Rosie is the youngest Price, and when she returns from Berlin, her mother, registered nurse Fran (the ever-reliable Corinna May), calls her three siblings and they instantly descend into Price’s Midwestern home kitchen. Pip (Liz Hayes) is the eldest and only married sister, and she has two daughters. Mark (Jo Michael Rezes) has just lost his girlfriend of three years to everyone’s disappointment, especially Fran’s. And Ben (David Keohane) is a financial trader who goes too fast. Bob (John Wojda) is the dad who retired early from the car assembly plant and now spends his days tending to his rose bushes, four of which are displayed prominently, attractively, symbolically, changing with the seasons at the bottom of the stage.

There’s the natural murderous affection of families who know how to push each other because they set them up. There is family lore and mythology of scrapes and falls, favorites and resentments, accusations and comforts. The play is a rich collection of stories of the four adult Price children at a crossroads and the actions they take. They are not equal or even comparable, except that the decisions they make are life changing forever.

GBPT Things 3 Credit GBPT Tristan Wilson
Raya Malcolm, Liz Hayes, Corinna May/Tristan Wilson

At one point, Fran wonders out loud if she chased the kids away and although she has some mean lines, the family is also very supportive. She always has a pan in the fridge, she can be encouraging and even continues to iron Ben’s shirts because the dyer can’t get them the way he wants. Spoiler alert: Ben is Fran’s favorite. The role is a feast of outsized emotions, contradictions and power and Corinna May is magnificent in it. At one point, Fran preaches the value of independence to Rosie and if there is any connecting motivation between her children’s actions, it must be in reaction to her unwavering will and determination.

The entire cast is superb, creating indelible individual portraits and performing director Judy Braha’s expressive actions with total commitment and interest. For example, in Rosie’s monologue (delivered with exquisite energy and discovery by Raya Malcolm) she describes seeing the man dancing in the nightclub without his shirt on, Malcolm moves center stage where his brothers and sisters are gathered around the dining table and begin to move, transforming the scene into a Berlin nightclub. There is also the kiss of his father at the airport described by Mark as he stands on the table haloed in the light of the ceiling lamp. It’s all the more remarkable given that the director’s program notes mention Zoom rehearsals. Such physical staging shouldn’t have been easy even though they had all their rehearsals in the studio.

John Wojda as Bob is the burly gardener; cultivating beauty, sensitive to family clashes in terms of language and volume but ready to do battle with Ben for having desecrated his house by his immoral acts. Her journey on her birthday night begins with dancing and ends with a “Me and you?” in disbelief. to his wife. Liz Hayes as Pip can’t help but make up her mind, acknowledging all the harm she can do. She is also Fran’s fiercest fighter. Jo Michael Rezes is fighting as hard as he can to stand up for himself and we are moved by the effort, the reaction to their story has silenced the public. David Keohane seemed to be Teflon, moving through stages in his shiny suit like nothing was sticking to him until he was brought up in a horrible situation. All characters have a full range of emotions from the tenderest expressions of love and support to the most bitter expressions of anger and resentment. It’s a story with a full palette of emotions and everyone here is exceptionally good at expressing them.

Credit GBPT Things 2 GBPT Tristan Wilson
Jo Michael Rezes, Raya Malcolm/Tristan Wilson

Juliana Haubrich’s set is a collection of lighted spaces by Matthew Adelson that allows the dining room, kitchen and front yard to be isolated, as well as monologues, or easily moved from one to another. other. Braha makes great use of the entire play area.

Rosie makes a list of things she knows to be true: “I know people aren’t perfect. Even the people you love. Especially the people you love. And I know that love is not enough to save them.

The things that I know to be true is an incredibly absorbing piece about fascinating, multi-faceted people trying their best to get what they need to feel whole, and the sometimes horrifying implications on their loved ones. Damn good storytelling.

Until 8/14, Great Barrington Public Theater @ Bard College at Simon’s Rock