Motivational speaker Chris John Jackson is cheerfully telling us that there are two or three things in life that have a point; the rest of it is a blank powerpoint slide. But don’t be alarmed, his is a ‘Way’ that will teach us to embrace all this futility; after all, it’s the enjoyment of trying in life that’s going to set us free. Will Adamsdale’s Perrier Award-winning show may not provide such an easy release, but Jackson’s Way is a vital, if disquieting experience.
Adamsdale’s charismatic alter-ego fills the Gate Theatre with his bombastic theories and exhilarating yet pointless games to an amused but befuddled audience. Because the white elephant in the room is why bother? Jackson may be able to face this question with a charming ‘I don’t know!’ and a cheeky grin, but Adamsdale surely needs to know?
Slowly it dawns on you; the genius to Jackson's Way is that he doesn’t, or at least never lets on that he does. In his sidestepping of our expectation, Adamsdale surpasses it.
Intricately crafted and with pitch perfect observation, Adamsdale could nail a straightforward self help pastiche if he wanted to. He could give us easy laughs and a satisfying moment of final pathos with this adorable, fragile character. But whilst he dangles subtle emotional carrots our way, by refusing to follow any of them up he forces us past any comfortable resolution, ‘Pushing Through It’ to relish each moment of failed dénouement.
The end result (as far as there is one) is difficult but beautiful. We are entertained by Jackson’s glorification of failure, but it is Adamsdale’s complex embracing of it with each dangerous, incomplete choice, that really hits home.
- Honour Bayes
The 'London Jacksathon', which sees Jackson's Way
play 26 venues in as many days started on 5 January at The Gate Theatre
and tours to a different London venue every night until 30 January 2011, concluding at the BAC.