Polarbear’s play has première at Birmingham REP

Steve Orme

A new play by Birmingham-born writer and performer Steven Camden, aka spoken-word artist Polarbear, I Knew You is to have its première at Birmingham REP.

Featuring Birmingham actress Lorna Laidlaw, I Knew You will also tour to 15 libraries, community halls and cafes across the city.

Camden said, “everything I write is about family, whether blood or chosen. The dynamics between those people closest to each other are the ones that fascinate me. I’m very interested in what the passage of time does to perceptions and opinions, how the lens through which we view what happens changes over time and what that means for us when we’re forced to address it.

I Knew You was born out of me thinking about that in relation to parenthood, duty and absence. What happens to the space that remains when a person leaves? What do we make them into in order to function? What do we make ourselves? And what happens if they come back?”

Lorna Laidlaw returns to the REP to play Angela. She is known as Mrs Tembe in the BBC TV series Doctors for which she won a Royal Television Society award. Appearing alongside her as Patrick is fellow Birmingham actor Roderick Smith who was in the REP’s 2013 production of Chris Campbell’s translation of Molière’s Tartuffe. Brenton Hamilton, also from Birmingham, makes his REP debut as Nathan.

I Knew You is directed by Daniel Bailey, with design by Georgia Wilmot, lighting design by Alex Boucher and sound design by Clive Meldrum. It runs in The Door at the REP from Friday 29 September until Saturday 7 October.

It then tours to Centrala Art Gallery, Fazeley Street, Birmingham on Wednesday 11 October; Bleakhouse Library, Oldbury on Thursday 12 October; The Old Print Works, Balsall Heath on Saturday 14 October; St Barnabas Church, Erdington on Tuesday 17 October; Sandwell Central Library, High Street, West Bromwich on Wednesday 18 October; Erdington Welcome Café, High Street, Birmingham on Thursday 19 October; Northfield Community Hub, Northfield High Street, Birmingham on Saturday 21 October; Oikos Café, Erdington on Monday 23 October; and All Saints Community Centre, Kings Heath on Friday and Saturday, 27 and 28 October.