Birmingham Rep at mac To 12 March.
then tour to 9 April 2011.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
Review: Rod Dungate, 7 March.

Touched but not grabbed.There’s a lovely central performance in this production, though the play, while touching, is disappointingly unchallenging.

Thirteen year old Sophie has had to return to Birmingham, with her sister and ex-hippie mother, to live in the too-small house of her grandmother. Sophie’s mother is all Earth spirit while her grandmother is paid up Christian. The reason the family has turned to Birmingham from their nomadic life-style is that Sophie is dying from bone cancer.

Sophie recounts her final months to us; she tells selected truth and represents herself, she tells us, not as she really was, but as she would like to have been.

Imogen Doel is lovely as Sophie. Her diminutive figure enables her to convince us of her age and she drives the whole play along with great energy. She has much direct address and her friendly, outgoing manner ensures we warm to her.

Caldwell gives Sophie some marvellous lines. Details of the young girl’s life are filled in with wit and an eye for telling minutiae. Quirkiness and perverseness hold our attention and enlighten us to the family’s shared history.

Disappointingly, however, the play has nothing below its surface; the story is told and there’s little to take away. Caldwell’s chosen form allows Sophie to tell her story in almost a monologue, while the other characters do little more than illustrate what’s being said.

The play has the power to touch us, but not to engage our deeper emotions. It’s not a missed opportunity, but perhaps a half missed one. Even so, young Sophie certainly is worth giving an hour of anyone’s time to.

Sophie: Imogen Doel.
Daphne: Jane Lowe.
Judy: Amanda Ryan.
Caliope: Jayne Wiseney.

Director: Rachel Kavanaugh.
Designer: Colin Richmond.
Lighting Designer: Simon Bond.
Composer: Catherine Jayes.
Sound Designer: Dan Hoole.
Associate Director: Robert Shaw Cameron.
Casting Director: Alison Solomon.

2011-03-08 20:50:09

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