by Shirley Lorraine
Santa Paula Stages Full Experience
Theaters are reawakening with offerings that touch at our very souls. The current play at Santa Paula Theater Center, Thing I Know to be True, is one such play. A relatively new work, (2019), the play delves deeply into one family’s connections and disconnections in visually interesting ways.
Written by Andrew Bovell, Things I Know to be True is an exploration into those things in our lives that are revealed and those we try to keep secret that are somehow intuited by those close to us. It bares the struggles many families endure to sustain their emotional connections to each other and tests the limits of each member individually. It made me think – when is enough, enough? When do parents allow their progeny to make their own decisions, to lead their own lives, even when basic principles are at odds?
Directed by Santa Paula Theater Center’s new Artistic Director Jessi May Stevenson, the play evokes myriad emotions and reactions not only through the written words but is also beautifully accented by moments of movement that add a deeper level of meaning to the story. The subtle placement of a hand upon a shoulder, a glance, a distancing or simply standing still becomes integral to the depth of the action.
Fran and Bob Price (Sindy McKay and Richard Kuhlman) are a couple married over 40 years, whose four adult children are trying to cope with their own failures and are struggling with self-seeking while maintaining their family connections. Each worry over their particular struggles while mother and dad do their best to square their expectations with reality. Along the path there are many surprises leading each member of the family to cope (or not) with these revelations in varying ways, revealing their own fears, feelings, and disappointments.
To reveal much of the plot would be to minimize the experience for future audiences. This is a play which must be experienced fully. The creative and visually arresting setting by Mike Carnahan adds a great deal to the controlled, meaningful action. Carefully chosen music and lighting envelope the action for a complete, satisfying piece of theater.
Each of the daughters, played by Julie Fergus, Erin Hollander and Emily Redman Hall, and the one son, James James, all deliver solid and engaging performances. McKay and Kuhlman provide poignant, humorous and significant moments throughout, pulling everything together. All the actors are excellent. They are every family.
The play deals with perceptions, fear of change, desire to maintain status quo, how our choices affect others and inequalities of many kinds. It is life. You should go see it.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required to attend the performance, per current health department mandates.
The run of Things I Know to be True continues with performances Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through April 3. Book online and choose your seats. www.santapaulatheatrecenter, firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 525-4645. The Center is located at 125 S. 7th Street, downtown Santa Paula.