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Memos to the dying lift the spirits

Jayne Wisener (Peace Star Warrior Calliope ‘Calliope'), Imogen Doel (Philosophy Rainbow ‘Sophie'), Jane Lowe (Daphne) and Amanda Ryan (Judy). Photos: Catherine Ashmore

Notes to Future Self

Birmingham Repertory Theatre at mac

*****

Lucy Caldwell's Notes To Future Self, is a harrowing tale presented with an entertaining and, at times, very funny viewpoint.  The play, commissioned by the Birmingham REP, saw it's world premiere at the new mac before touring the regions and UK as part of The Sir Barry Jackson Community Tour.

Caldwell is a brilliantly, beautifully, descriptive writer, and her characters set the scene in their own space with a minimal set under the artistic direction of the REP's own Rachel Kavanagh.

Briefly, Judy ran away from home at 17 and became a New Ager, raising two daughters in a nomadic lifestyle in ashrams, communes and impromptu raves in “more places…than the limitations of [our] world will even allow for”.  Judy returns home to Birmingham when her youngest daughter, Philosophy Rainbow (Sophie) becomes terminally ill.

The brilliant Imogen Doel gives a first class performance as Sophie.  Her delivery is word perfect, imaginative and touching.  We see Sophie as she wishes us to see her, the real her, not the fading, thin and ill child. She doesn't want to dwell on the illness.

Sisters united:Imogen Doel (Philosophy Rainbow ‘Sophie') and Jayne Wisener (Peace Star Warrior Calliope ‘Calliope')

She is totally captivating and believable as the 13-year old who has come to this strange, but very ordinary place, to die.  As she prepares to leave this world she makes notes to her future self.

Jayne Wisener is equally convincing as Sophie's older sister, Peace Star Warrior Calliope (Cal) offering comfort to her younger sibling, searching in the attic for clues about her father and discovering the joy of teenage love.  She has finally come to lead the normal life she has so longed for.

Amanda Ryan as hippy mother Judy spends much time in meditation and Jane Lowe as grandmother, Daphne, spends much time writing lists, reading and praying; almost interactive props, essential to the storyline but not particularly stretching parts.  Lowe's Brummie accent is admirable but does tend to slip in and out. 

Caldwell is a prolific and exciting young writer, achieving much acclaim for her books and many awards for earlier works for the radio and stage including the 2009 Richard Imison Award (Girl from Mars) and the BBC Stewart Parker Award for Leaves. To 12-03-11.

Lynda Ford 

As part pf its UK tour the play will; be appearing at the following Midland venues:

 

Monday 21 March, 7.30pm
Artrix
, School Drive, Bromsgrove, Worcs B60 1AX
Tickets: £12 Concessions: £10
Box Office: 01527 577330 Online: www.artrix.co.uk

 

Monday 28 March, 7.30pm
Arena Theatre,
Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1SE
Tickets: £5
Box Office: 01902 321 321 Online: www.arena.wlv.ac.uk

 

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