As part of the New and Nurtured season at The Rep, I Knew You, written by local spoken word artist Steven Camden, aka Polarbear, and directed by Daniel Bailey, is running until 7 October.
With a cast of just three, Brenton Hamilton as Nathan, Lorna Laidlaw as Angela and Roderick Smith as Patrick, and a sparse set, as you would expect from Polarbear, it’s the words that are the focus.
Camden puts words in his characters mouths, using monologues to give us a glimpse into their lives, inner thoughts and feelings as the past comes back, literally, and forces each of them to make a decision. I Knew You has a short running time of 50 minutes, with no interval, and packs a lot of emotion and subtle drama into such a small window.
Angela is a teacher in a local school who has been raising her son since his father left. Now a grown up with a son of his own, Nathan is a stay at home Dad striving to be a better father than his own. When Patrick, the absent father in question, comes back into their lives after 20 years, they all have decisions to make.
The production is simple, a wooden bench sitting on an illustration depicting scenes from the city in the shape of an arched window; a window onto the city and the lives of the people who live in it, just as the play is a small opening into the lives of the three characters.
The use of lighting, to suggest a school, a swimming pool, a supermarket, is also simple and effective, illuminating the characters as they talk and interact.
I really enjoyed I Knew You, it manages to be moving, funny and thought provoking in just 50 minutes. If you get a chance to see it, take it.
I Knew You is at the Rep until 7 October. Tickets are £10.
Review by by Sally Watson-Jones