I Hate This
nytheatre.com review by Debbie Hoodiman
August 15, 2004
I Hate This, David Hansen’s one-man show about his grief following the stillbirth of his son, details both the hours leading up to the birth and the year following the tragedy in alternating scenes. The segments of the show are separated with headings on a computer, which provide an easy reference for the audience and add structure.
Hansen explores his grief pretty fearlessly, without simplifying the material or falsely telling the audience everything is or will be ok. The death was sudden and terrible, and to his credit, Hansen does not turn away from that fact. That said, also to his credit, there is some levity to the show. He tells some jokes and one-liners and his demeanor is straightforward but not heavy.
Hansen plays several characters, including himself, two hospital nurses, his father, his brothers, his ex-girlfriend Julie, and most enjoyably, his English niece. When playing the niece, he captures the whimsicality of a small child, and because of his physical transformation, it is his strongest scene as an actor. She sits him on the floor and plays “market” with him. She tells him a story about each of her animals. The specificity of this scene is powerful, sad, and enjoyable at once. A scene at the Cloisters, describing a painting in detail, also stands out. Hansen adds perspective to the show through references to Hamlet and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
The original music by Dennis Yurich and the sound cues/design work very successfully, as does Thomas Cullinan's direction. As a play, I don't know that the script would work on its own, with an actor other than Hansen performing it, but maybe that is the nature of the autobiographical, non-fiction, one-person-show genre. Overall, the show is sincere, moving, and interesting, and I appreciate Hansen's handling of difficult material.