Notes to Future Self

Lucy Caldwell
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
mac, Birmingham, and touring
(2011)

Notes to Future Self production photo

If you thought you were going to be reincarnated, what would you want to tell your future self? This idea is explored in Lucy Caldwell’s new play Notes to Future Self which chronicles the last weeks of Sophie’s (Imogen Doel) life as she battles with terminal bone cancer. Sophie’s real name is Philosophy Rainbow and she and her older sister Peace Warrior Star Calliope (Jayne Wisener) are the children of single mum Judy (Amanda Ryan) who, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a new age hippy. Having spent most of her life living in various communes and travelling the world with her daughters, Judy brings them back to her mother’s home in Birmingham following Sophie’s diagnosis.

Caldwell’s script is entertaining but it lacks the depth to deal adequately with the issues a story like this could potentially have explored. Clichés and stereotypes abound which make it difficult to fully engage with any of the characters, although Doel is energetic and amusing as the young Sophie. Sophie’s notes to her future self are presented throughout the play in monologue form, but focus more on the mundane then the meaningful. While she is presenting her monologues, the other actors stay in their own areas of the stage going about their daily routines. The stylised and often repeated dinner scenes also reinforce the play's overarching message that life goes on.

Calliope and the relationship with her younger sister is the most interesting element of the script. Amidst the tragedy of losing her sister Calliope falls in love and has sex for the first time. This creates an interesting tension as these are typical coming of age experiences that Sophie will never get to experience, at least not in this lifetime.

Touring until the 9th of April

This review was delayed because of email problems. Many apologies!

Reviewer: Iain James Finlayson