Wednesday, 12 May 2021

REVIEW: From Me To Us at the N.I.A.M.O.S Radical Arts & Cultural Centre in Manchester, presented by Battersea Arts Centre (Online)

The choice to become a parent, for many, is a logical step at some point in a person's life. Whether you are in a committed relationship or single the desire to start a family comes from a primal place. Culturally, we have been conditioned to believe a future with children in it is largely reserved for those in a heterosexual relationship. Either naturally or by other means there is and has been for a long time obtainable options to make this calling a reality for those in this perceived norm. However, If you find yourself in a position where you are single or in a same-sex partnership, biologically your options become far more limited and until very recently the law has stood in the way as an added barrier. 

Performed and written by Wayne Steven Jackson, From Me to Us is the autobiographical tale of a single, homosexual male on the road to becoming a parent despite growing up in a world that told him he had less right to be one than others. In the wake of a shift in the UK law to make single father surrogacy a possibility, It is a one-man show written as an intimate letter to a future child conjured up from what had always been “an impossible story…” and is now a realistic dream.

Performed and filmed at the N.I.A.M.O.S Radical Arts and Cultural Centre in Manchester and presented and streamed online through Battersea Arts Centre, From Me to Us opens to an orderly and simple set consisting of not much more than a single table and chair, black typewriter and clothes rail with six hanging shirts. It is a modest and vulnerable setting made even more so by the pacing and earnest Jackson. It is a space waiting for a child not yet borne but already deeply loved, where time passes and plans can be made. 

The action onstage is accompanied with emotive music by acclaimed composer Chris Benstead and seamlessly interspersed with video footage of suspended, dreamlike memories and isolated figures by Ben Horrigan. From the beginning, the play hits us as a deeply personal story while at the same time a silent story shared by so many others.

There is no doubt that Jackson is a gifted writer and storyteller and should be commended for his honesty as he frames what can get caught up as a highly politicised issue as a very human right. At one point the hour-long monologue mentions being “oblivious” to when this change of policy, so crucial to the story of his life, was made, highlighting the acceptance we give to inequality. I am guilty of not having previously considering the legal implications of what it had meant to want to be a single father myself. More than a play this is an important conversation that needs to be shared. 

The text is unapologetically poetic and romantic which becomes its emotional power, however, it does take a little bit of time to settle as it begins as a sort of listicle, detailing everything the story is going to be. It also feels like the story ‘begins’ several times. This can all be forgiven, though, if looked at as a reflection of the seemingly intangible reality of the subject matter.

The one issue I found overall was the constant music underscoring nearly the entire piece. Although highly emotive and sensitive to Jackson’s performance, it becomes slightly distracting and unnecessarily fills space that is so beautifully carved out by the text.

From Me to Us is an important piece of storytelling and a light for what the future of parenthood can look like in this country. It is a play about a positive change that is still learning to walk. Knowing this story will only help it to grow up strong and healthy.

Available to stream any time between the 10-16 May.

From Me to Us will be at the Norwich Arts Centre between the 17 - 23 May 2021 ( at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield between the 31 May - 6 June 2021 (

Review by Stephanie Osztreicher

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Online | Price of Ticket: Pay what you can (suggested £6)
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