Words by Lucy Mounfield
Running from Friday 29th September until 7th October, the REP’s smaller stage, The Door, will host I Knew You – a new play from Birmingham-born writer and performer, Steve Camden (aka Polarbear).
Doors open for an evening performance at 8pm each night – apart from Tues 3rd Oct (7pm), Thurs 5th Oct (2:30pm), Sat 7th Oct (2:30pm). Ticket are priced at £10, with group, family, disabled and school rates available through the REP box office. For direct event info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.
I Knew You receives its premiere at the Birmingham REP before moving on to a tour of fifteen libraries, community halls and small cafes. This is Camden’s second play, following on from his success at The Door in 2015 with his coming of age tale Back Down.
Prior to debuting Back Down to critical acclaim, Steve Camden was a respected UK based spoken word artist, regularly performing his work under the name Polarbear since 2007. Camden has even written and published three novels – Tape, It’s About Love, and Nobody Real – as well as writing Mouth Open, Story Jump Out which is currently on its third international tour. I Knew You is part of Birmingham REP’s New and Nurtured programme which features six plays by local writers.
With some home-grown talent as the play’s lead actress – Lorna Laidlaw, who previously starred in daytime T.V. soap/drama, Doctors – I Knew You tells the story of nearly-retired single mum, Angela, whose fixed routine of ready-meals and looking after her cats is suddenly interrupted by a chance encounter with ‘her Patrick’, an erstwhile partner who had previously walked out on her and their son, Nathan. Patrick bears news that forces Angela to consider introducing him to Nathan, who up until this point has had no idea who his father is.
Now himself a parent – a stay at home dad struggling to cope with parenthood – with the arrival of Patrick, Nathan comes face to face with his own identity as a father and son. As past and present collide, I Knew You portends to re-examine what it means to be a parent and the importance of having those early role models.
Camden says of his latest play:
‘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 am 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 are 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?’
With this kind of thought-process, I Knew You could be an astute and nuanced refection on the relationship between a parent and their child, and the absence thereof. Birmingham get’s the first chance to find out, at the REP between Friday 29th September until 7th October.
I Knew You – a play by Steven Camden
I Knew You runs at the Birmingham REP from Friday 29th September until 7th October. For direct event info, including venue details and online bookings, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/i-knew-you
For more from the Birmingham REP, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk
For more on Steven Camden (aka Polarbear), visit www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/polarbear