The journey towards Hannah Moss creating her critically-acclaimed debut theatre show started the day her dad died. For many years she was unable to verbalise or even acknowledge the grief she had suffered, aged 17, when her father passed away.
At university she had tried to write a play about the experience, but couldn’t quite find her voice. She wanted to go into the theatre professionally but wasn’t quite sure about how to approach that either.
Through her collaboration with fellow theatre maker David Ralfe and a chance encounter with a production at the Edinburgh Fringe she finally found the language to express herself.
Almost entirely without the spoken word, So It Goes tells the story of Hannah coming to terms with her father’s death. Revelling in his eccentricities and recounting fond memories, the narrative unravels through mime, movement and a mini whiteboard hanging around Hannah’s neck. “I’ve become very good at writing upside down,” she says.
The play’s title is a quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. In the novel, death is always followed by the phrase ‘so it goes’, acknowledging it as a natural part of the cycle of life, with the same reassuring tone we might recognise in ‘c’est la vie’.
The first time Hannah spoke properly with her mother and family about her dad was after the show’s first performance. Referring to scenes in the play they found they could finally ask one another how it felt when certain moments occurred. “It was like there was this third thing to talk about,” Hannah says.
Through the prism of the play, Hannah began to communicate with her family, coming to terms with her own grief and now able to celebrate her father’s life.
Glowing reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe have prompted a national tour for So It Goes, which this month comes to Shoreditch Town Hall. It’s a tour which kicked off on Merseyside – where Hannah’s dad grew up.
Hannah has described the show as “my way of saying goodbye”, adding that: “It was fitting that Merseyside was the first show we did.”
So It Goes is at Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT from 8–18 April