Review: Dear Dead Jason (Potluck Festival, online)

Jen Moss’s short play about the aftermath of a young man’s suicide takes the form of a piece to camera, addressed to Dear Dead Jason, by his grieving wife Veronica (Hannah Wilder).

A piece that is both staggering in its rawness, and sharp in its moments of levity (there is a liberal use of pop culture references, emojis, gifs and more), this play captures the moments leading on from a sudden loss.

Of course, any play on this subject has to take a broad-brush view, as each survivor reacts in a different way. Dear Dead Jason presents Veronica’s reaction and story, but it might not be yours, and quite rightly, the play ends with details of how to contact Cruse Bereavement Care.

Hannah Wilder in Dear Dead Jason

Grief and loss happens to all of us, but we rarely feel comfortable talking about it, and even professional support networks sometimes fall short.

How many times have we heard, or thought, “I don’t know what to say”, or fallen into the trap of calling the bereaved “brave”.

Dear Dead Jason faces all these condundrums head on, and yet does not wallow in bleakness. Jen Moss’s direction and Hugo Moss’s visual flair is inspired by social media norms and personal expectations of what grief might mean.

Hannah Wilder in Dear Dead Jason

Dear Dead Jason may not completely succeed throughout, and is probably not something to engage in watching without exercising a little caution, but it is well-produced and performed and I certainly related to quite a large part of it, including Veronica’s sheen of blankness in the face of people behaving as if she is “radioactive”.

Part of Tablespoon Theatre’s Potluck Festival (26-28 March), Dear Dead Jason is an interesting piece which will hopefully reappear in some format or another very soon.

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