I defy anyone to fail to be moved by So It Goes, a beautiful piece of physical theatre. Based on the true life experience of one of the actors, Hannah Moss, we share the story of how she lost her father to cancer when she was still in her teens. But what’s different about this story is the way it’s told. Not a single word is spoken throughout; pretty much all the props are cartoon-like, hand drawn on card, and miniature white-boards also help unfold the narrative.
David Ralfe plays the part of Dad, as well as Mum and everyone else required, whilst Moss stays in character as the grieving daughter throughout. Both actors create a gentle, at times funny, but always poignant atmosphere. The audience are drawn in from the start, and I truly felt as if her loss was mine – the characters felt so real, so touchable. I was there with them at the picnic, the shopping expedition to Top Shop, the trip to the supermarket. All the way to the end.
Ralfe is extraordinary in his quick changes from Dad to Mum, capturing both characters completely. His response to the reality of the story is heartfelt, and his evocation of Moss's Dad – through from childhood memories of running together to his untimely death – is just staggering. The passage of time is announced by messages on shopping bags and dressing gowns, as Moss shows us, bit by bit, just how she comes to terms with her loss.
The sheer skill of the performance is mesmerising; intimate feelings of grief are conveyed through the power of silence, stillness, and waiting. There are momentous scenes too, with the final goodbye seeing Moss at her very best. Epitomising the philosophy that less is more, hardly moving, her pain is almost tangible. And the hospital scene itself – creating the illusion of all the family, a brigade of doctors, and the brutality of devastating news – is simply utter genius. (Look out for the wooden ducks, an original idea which I’ll never forget.)
The audience, captivated, were still and silent too, barring only the occasional sound of people reaching for their tissues. By the end, I wouldn't mind betting that there wasn't anyone there who wasn’t in tears. And it’s easy to explain why: watching this play made me think about treasuring those moments with my own parents, for they’re the stuff that memories are made of, and are all we are left with in the end.
Sadly, most of us can identify with the loss of someone we love, and so there’s no doubt this story will speak to you too. You’ll be moved, amused and astounded by a faultless, gentle, and beautifully-crafted piece of work. So It Goes is one not to be missed.