The story revolves around Peter, a young lawyer who is just starting to get noticed by the right people and is presumably on the verge of a glittering career. Jenny, his girlfriend is a journalist and the two are about to move in together. Then Peter inadvertently sends out an email to everyone in his address book, an email that has some child porn attached to it.
The story then moves on and Peter is in the segregation unit of the prison where he will spend the next three years. We meet his fellow offenders Harry and Tim; Harry is a weak and pathetic character, he’s almost ready for parole and desperate to have a life outside that does not include paedophilia – a “future me”. Tim is a very different animal; he was abused as a child and misinterpreted it for love. He can see nothing wrong with adult–minor relations and is determined that once on the outside he will campaign for the age on consent to be lowered.
At first Peter tries to keep himself to himself, he refuses to attend therapy groups or to speak to the other “nonces”, no doubt he sees himself as a cut above them; but three years is a long time and eventually he starts to respond and becomes something of a hero to Harry, a man who has no friends or family of his own.
The final part of the story gives us a glimpse of what life is like on the outside for Peter and all those connected with him. He will never work as a lawyer again so he’s scratching a living as a copy-editor; his father has died; his brother has married and had a baby girl who Peter is not allowed to visit; his former girlfriend is struggling with relationships as she cannot trust men; Harry is fighting temptation and seems doomed to failure and Tim remains convinced that it is the rest of the world that is wrong.
Future Me is a harrowing play, although not without a few laughs along the way. It never tries to defend paedophiles – that is something best left to other paedophiles to do, but it does give them a human face. In Peter’s case, that face is quite remarkable. From the moment he enters prison, he manages to look permanently on the verge of tears with wet, red-eyes that have a constant haunted look. On the screen that could be achieved quite easily with the help of a tear stick, but to do that in live theatre is much harder.
Brilliantly acted, Future Me is perfect material for a small venue like the Burton Taylor Studio. I highly recommend it.