Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Notes to Future Self - Birmingham Rep at The Mac

Writer: Lucy Caldwell
Director: Rachel Kavanaugh
Reviewer: Tabitha McGrath

There is one small negative to attending hundreds of concerts a year and that is sometimes one feels numb to the range of emotions that are displayed to you, so it is wonderful to occasionally stumble across a piece of theatre that truly moves you. The Birmingham Rep’s Notes to Future Self is such an occasion. I cried. So did the rest of the audience.

Lucy Caldwell’s moving story is a mergence between reality and the dream world. Sophie, is 13, daughter to a new-age hippy, Judy, and sister to a self-conscious 16-year old, Calliope. She has been diagnosed with terminal Stage 3 bone cancer, and this one-act play sets out the last few weeks of her life.

Faced with the reality of death, Sophie finds her only solace in the hope that she is re-incarnated in another body. She “doesn’t allow” us (her future), as she describes she is, smelly, thin, bald, dying. Instead we see her in a whimsical costume, full of life, energy and understandably, rage.

Having lived all over the world due to Judy’s new-age ways, they are forced to move back to King’s Heath and live with Daphne, the sisters granddaughter, a practicing Christian and the antithesis of the hippy lifestyle that the girl’s were brought up in. The consistent daily routine, dinner at 5, prayers etc is an excellent back drop to the broad spectrum of emotions that the characters go through as they try to cope with this horrific situation.

The disjointed family talk bluntly of what is to come, which is both refreshing and heart-breaking. Religion is discussed heavily, and we see some lose theirs and others gain a new perspective. Caldwell’s plot and dialogue are eloquently written, the characters have superb depth and this is only match by the skill of the talented performers.

The young Imogen Doel, as Sophie, is superb. She is witty and humourous which is in itself heart-breaking. She shows skill that are often not seen even in performers three times her age. Her supporting sister, Jayne Wisener, is just as skilled and one would think that these two girls had known each other their entire lives. Jane Lowe as Daphne, holds the poise and stability that the play needs and the subtle glimmer of her breakdown was one of the most emotional moments of the piece. Judy’s selfishness yet caring attitude was just as excellently played by Amanda Ryan.

This production was apart of the Rep’s Change of Scenery season and was performed at the brand new Mac Theatre in Edgbaston. Colin Richmond’s setting was simple and complimentary. Director and Creative Director of the Rep, Rachel Kavanaugh has produced a emotional and touching experience that could warm the hearts of even the most unemotional audience.

Runs until 9th April 
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