Writer: Dom Rowe
Music: Paul Tonkin &Lois Baldry
Director: Dom Rowe
Reviewer: Holly Spanner
What would you do if you could start again? Create a new identity and a new outlook, or would you try and rediscover your past life? Nick has retrograde amnesia, with no sense of self to relate to, and no clue as to the man he was. Deciding that someone, somewhere out there must know who he is, he makes a plea – a plea to the internet, and anyone who may be watching. With the help of Life Ltd and social media network guru Lucy, he is launched into the world of self-publicity and celebrity in a quest to find himself. The play evolves from lighter, more curious and methodical feelings of who am I to the darker thoughts and stress which occur after worry and paranoia set in.
Following development at the Wardrobe Theatre in 2012, My Previous Self marks director Dom Rowe’s directorial debut and features original music by Paul Tonkin and Lois Baldry. Interspersed throughout the narrative, a guitar and harmonica are played by the actors, almost as a way of breaking up the story, but in such a way that they become part of the story. More could be made of this, as maybe a method of showing the passing of time, which is instead indicated by the escalating number of YouTube likes and writing on a chalk board.
As a two-hander, there needs to be a stronger chemistry between the actors, although both demonstrate a good understanding of the mind-set of the characters. Likewise, more could be made about their relationship in the story itself and the extent to which Lucy has to go for ratings. Lois Baldry as Lucy, portrays a character with a strong sense of duty and gratefulness to her company, with an almost comical switch from her own self to TV host and company rep. Paul Tonkin plays Nick with honesty and just the right amount of enigma, making his journey of self-discovery endearing to follow.
My Previous Self has a rich multi-layered subtext, making this a play as much about interpretation, and how far as an audience member you are willing to go to question your core beliefs as it is the surface narrative. A very interesting context and one that feels very real in today’s reality TV orientated and online world. A thought provoking, psychological drama with huge potential.