“I can’t wait to meet you … you were loved before you were anything more than a small, hopeful, idea”.
From Me to Us is created and performed by Wayne Steven Jackson, with music composed by Chris Benstead and videography by Ben Horrigan.
A single father addresses his future child. He explores the possibility of LGBTQ+ fatherhood and single father surrogacy.
He stands, with a microphone, a smile radiates from his face, nervously, to the virtual audience. A chair, table, typewriter (old-style, blank, with keys that bounce and catch). There is a shoebox, holding something special, a bond between families.
Six shirts hang on a rail. Each simple costume change is a milestone in Jackson’s “impossible story”, each change a step forward from when the law changed to allow single fathers to assume parental rights.
He types, we hear a voiceover. From Me to Us is a poignant piece, a loving letter to the unborn, a hand reaching across time to touch.
He speaks to us. “I have no expectations”. He speaks for his unborn child. “Me and you, us”.
This twist on writing a letter to yourself in the future, instead addressing someone not yet born, is highly effective, and unfailingly matter of fact.
The lush score which is a constant, background presence gives this one-person show life and clarity. The filming has quirks and creativity which gives this tale of the impossible, mixed with legal facts an anchor to bring you back to its core.
“The idea that there was a man out there that wanted to have a child by himself just didn’t seem real”. One man and his journey to being a father shapes itself into an incredibly moving piece of theatre, whether you are parents or not.
There are things here I didn’t know about legal parental responsibility and surrogacy when the ‘receiving parent’ is a single man or woman with no control over naming or medical treatment.
There are things showing the usual system is not always ready for gay fathers. A description of going to give a sperm sample is one (“He noticed the pile of magazines, none of them are for him”). The deference to the surrogate mother is another (although she “makes it feel comfortable … possible”).
The father to be wonders what the child will be doing: a boy playing with toy bricks in the house, a girl in the sea, trapped on the rocks. We see them as he talks about them in filmed inserts.
The responsibility of being a parent. “There is someone more important than myself”.
The music is sentimental but not overly so; this is a piece about winning, of a journey which seemed unthinkable years ago. The first few notes of the main theme remind me of The Snowman, itself a tale of looking back on childhood. I wonder if this was a deliberate choice.
From Me to Us is a beautiful piece which addresses the hope of a prospective parent who never thought it was possible for him to be a father with honesty and pragmatism. Jackson’s words are never wasted, and Horrigan’s video work is impressive and creative.
From Me to Us is streaming via Battersea Arts Centre until 16 May on a Pay What You Can basis: book here. It then tours to Norwich Arts Centre 17-23 May and Lawrence Batley Theatre 31 May-6 June.
If you need advice about surrogacy (as intended parent or surrogate), visit Brilliant Beginnings.
For more about Wayne Steven Jackson, visit his website.
LouReviews received complimentary access to review From Me to Us.