My Previous Self

Mon 25th – Fri 29th March 2013


Ellen Smyth

at 00:37 on 19th Oct 2011



Dom Rowe’s “My Previous Self” is a fascinating and thought provoking piece which explores a labyrinthine network of ideas. Undeniably hypnotic to watch, there is certainly an ominous atmosphere throughout the play which is juxtaposed to the wry sense of humour with which it is littered.

Nick (Jack Johns) is captivating to watch: comical and charming he is almost frustratingly nonchalant about having found himself, at thirty-something years old, suffering from retrograde amnesia. But as the darkly sinister plot unravels, so too does Nick's character, which becomes trapped by his neurosis. Determined to re-discover a sense of ‘self’, Nick struggles against what he describes as the “quirks of his condition.” Watching Nick's demise and retreat into fear and solitude is somewhat painful; his frantic attempts to latch onto memories just out of reach and keen quest for the truth expose such intense vulnerability that the audience is always rooting for him, regardless of whether he deserves it or not. Having travelled with Nick down the road of self discovery, it seems the audience don’t want to doubt him. If I were to fault the development of the story in any way, it would only be to express a faint disappointment in the predictability of Chloe’s character (Charlotte Ellis). I felt an immediate distrust of Chloe, no matter how righteous or honourable her intentions. Chloe’s suspicious and patronising nature flag up early warning signals which could perhaps have been more subtle in their suggestion of the future manipulation of her puppeteer, Nick. I felt that perhaps by making the play slightly longer the mistrust of Chloe would be less immediate and instead the seed of suspicion might grow more gradually.

Above all it is clear that Director Matt Grinter and Producer Charlotte Ellis have worked in close harmony to form this carefully crafted, multi-layered play. Ultimately, its raw emotion probes some complex and soul searching questions about how one can gain a sense of self. Are we, as Chloe suggests, the sum of the choices we make? Is recognising your reflection the first step in being human? There is ample food for thought in the subtext of “My Previous Self.” As Nick questions his own morality and beliefs, he encourages the audience to do the same. The idea of being able to reconcile ones ‘previous self’ with ones ‘current self’ is something I think everyone can explore to some degree.


Chelsey Stuyt

at 10:49 on 19th Oct 2011



Dom Rowe's "My Previous Self" was a surprise and a half. The story follows "Nick" (wonderfully played by Jack Johns), a recent amnesiac who uses social networking to try and piece his past back together. However, the quasi-comical beginning quickly devolves into a darker world where questions of Nature versus Nurture reveal potentially lethal consequences.

First, the good. The script is lovely. Filled with wit and humor, it offers the audience character with a realistic edge and a sense of the world as it is. This becomes increasingly important as the plot moves into darker territory. Jack Johns as the lead character "Nick" is marvelous. This is a play that will make it or break it depending upon the strength of the lead actor - and he makes it. He has a natural delivery that pauses and hesitates in exactly the right places. This is especially well highlighted when he interacts with the technological aspect of the stage construction. Nick is broadcasting his experience over the internet and this film is projected over his shoulder for us to see. The stage direction is excellent as much of the action is as well framed on the screen as it is on stage.

Now, the not so good. Personally, I did not enjoy the score. The moments between scenes were filled with this recording of a heart beat that I felt was a bit melodramatic. The strength of the play lies in its subtlety and its attention to human detail. I feel that the heart beat detracts from this. Also, the other actor, Charlotte Ellis, was a bit wooden however this did provide a nice foil to the lead. There were a few slow moments in the script - particularly near the end where it seemed as though things were just getting to a climax... and suddenly it was over.

All in all, this was an excellent navigation of the issues of self. Can we have a future without a past? Go see it and find out.


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