From Me to Us at Battersea Arts Centre online
In 2019, a historical shift in UK law occurred without much fanfare or notice: Section 54a of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 permitted single parents to gain surrogacy rights and parenthood authentication for the first time. Wayne Steven Jackson’s From Me to Us is a tribute to this change as unassuming yet commendable as the political event itself.
Written, directed and performed by its creator, Jackson composes a letter from a future father to his future child. He weaves together details, both autobiographical and imagined, and speculates on what the times to come will be like, while also remembering the difficult steps it took to get there.
With the original play adapted for a digital performance, Ben Horrigan’s videography adds only some visual variety to the otherwise sparse staging. While location shots punctuate the play’s poignant moments, the occasional slide into split screen is pretty needless. Fortunately, such stylistic flourishes don’t detract from the strengths in the original material. At times the script is merely informative of its context, but the creator is really trying to explore the emotional ramifications before and after Section 54a, highlighting the myriad difficulties around single parenthood surrogacy (specifically, at times, for gay men). It hovers on a thin line between sincere and mawkish; Jackson deftly criticises long-held ignorance and scepticism over single father surrogacy, but allows the odd platitude on parental love to drop dully. Chris Benstead’s soft classic score doesn’t always help either, providing a musical backdrop that tries to pull heartstrings but is occasionally overpowering.
However, the focal performance by Jackson certainly makes the show undeniably relaxed and earnest. Switching between shirts and reminiscing over the few personal props on an almost unadorned stage, the actor invites casual intimacy with his story and the political conditions that inform it. Over its brief runtime, the play reminds the audience that not all life-altering, societally impactful events take place with noisy conflict and tragedy – in the space of political theatre, if you like. Instead, From Me to Us is a quiet, sweet love letter to the small, struggling shifts that open big, joyful possibilities.
From Me to Us is available to stream from 10th May until 16th May 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.