In her darkest moments of a family tragedy, Mona Pirnot struggled to communicate with her boyfriend or her therapist. Instead, she turned to an unorthodox coping mechanism – typing her thoughts into her laptop and prompting a text-to-speech program to voice them. This practice led to a creative pivot for Pirnot and her now-husband Lucas Hnath, also a playwright. Hnath has a history of incorporating disembodied voices into his works, and the couple’s collaborative efforts have resulted in the upcoming play “I Love You So Much I Could Die.” The 65-minute show is a diaristic exploration of how Pirnot was affected by her sister’s incapacitation at the start of the pandemic, and features a Microsoft text-to-speech program reading her lines. The unemotional, robotic male voice creates a jarring yet moving experience for the audience, eliciting laughter and anxiety during the show.
Hnath’s signature fingerprints can be found in the production, with snaking cords and cables, as well as a spare set designed by Mimi Lien. The play also showcases Hnath’s experimentation with unsettling uses of audio, reflecting his interest in the tension between physical and mental or intellectual. Despite sharing a deeply personal and painful story, Pirnot does not detail her sister’s medical situation in the play. The choice to express her feelings without revealing specific details was a conscious decision to focus on the emotional aftermath of a life-changing event. For Pirnot and Hnath, “I Love You So Much I Could Die” offers an opportunity to build a performance that is a true reflection of themselves, combining their distinct creative styles and talents in an unpretentious and authentic way.