Sunday 1 November 2020

FILM REVIEW: From Me To Us - Wayne Steven Jackson / Contact Theatre, Manchester.

A solo contemporary performance piece, filmed mostly in an empty theatre, but with the added advantages of other pertinent locations as well as split screen and overlaying filming techniques here and there, this is Wayne Steven Jackson's cri-du-coeur: he wants to be a dad!

Until quite recently there were several things standing in his way though. First of all, he is single, and more importantly, he is gay. However, in 2019, there was an amendment to the law, and Section 54A of the Human Fertilisation And Embriology Act came into being, meaning that the single unmarried or same sex couples would be able to apply for a surrogate host and become a parent.

This is Jackson's story. He can't actually remember the first moment he realised he'd like to be a father, but now this has become a legal possibility, he feels more and more that it is right for him. He calls it 'an impossible story', and of course, before 2019, it certainly would have been; but dare he start to dream? to hope? to imagine this becoming a reality? This is a deeply moving, intimate and personal account told in a modern theatrical way - the way he knows best... it's what he teaches.

Jackson's narrative has some beautifully crafted imagery and his anecdotes are superbly chosen; and the idea of him writing a letter to his, as yet, unborn child, and this performance piece being the start of his letter, is the most wonderful and touching idea. 

I do have two niggles about the film though. First, I simply don't understand the need for the microphone. I have to be honest, but even when I have seen pieces of modern performance on stage which have used microphones, I have balked at the idea finding them unnecessary - however, in a filmed setting where the monologue is already very personal and intimate, using the mic seemed wrong and something akin to banging a drum outside parliament. And the second point is that for me, the camera angle when being filmed on stage, when the whole stage is visible is odd. We are given a circle-audience-perspective of a fringe stage with no circle, meaning Jackson is looking upwards when speaking to camera which again looks slightly strange.

However, these two minor distractions aside, Jackson has every reason to be extremely proud of this film and what he is trying to achieve. Fatherhood is something not to be taken lightly, and if it's something that one is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths and jump through several hoops in order to achieve, then it only makes me think it would make being a father all the more precious and meaningful.

The background music throughout (Chris Binstead) is apt and complimentary, and the use of the above-mentioned filming techniques does help to drive the narrative forward and sustain interest. 

Empathetically told, and intelligently compiled. This film will receive its premiere performance on the 12 November through Manchester's Contact Theatre; link here:

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 30/10/20

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