I Hate This @ The Lowry
I Hate This is a one-man show written and originally performed by American playwright David Hasen and takes the form of an autobiographical account of his grief following the stillbirth of his son. Since its debut in 2002, Hansen has performed the piece around America and the UK but now it is to be performed in its entirety by another actor for the first time. Prior to a tour scheduled for next year, John Dayton performs the piece at The Lowry as part of National pregnancy and infant loss day.
One can only image the difficulty of immersing yourself in such heart-breaking content, and yet Dayton explores this grief fearlessly, without pander. Director Hugo Chandor tackles the subject head-on, without allowing the audience to be comforted by a false pretence. This approach, though seemingly merciless, is brilliant. It travels beyond the safety zone of the fourth wall and puts the audience in the thick of the action. To feel and experience the same emotions as the onstage protagonist is down to honest writing, bold directing and fearless acting – which was certainly the case here with Freerange Theatre Company’s production.
The piece is, however, laced with levity; there are some great one-liners and jokes that are complimented by a dry delivery. Dayton’s approach is straightforward but not heavy, which allowed light and shade, meaning the audience can enjoy the humour while also understanding its function as a coping mechanism.
Though the production itself is sincere and powerful, there is a serious stigma when it comes to discussing stillborn births. That said, Freerange have teamed up with Sands – the stillborn and neonatal death charity – to raise awareness of the topic and have forecasted a tour of I Hate This for next year. I highly recommend audiences to attend one of the dates.