Will Adamsdale: Borders
  • By Ed Barnes
  • |
  • 9th Aug 2014
  • |
  • ★★★★★

'The problem with being white, male, and privileged' states Adamsdale in the opening few minutes of his latest show Borders, 'is that I have absolutely nothing to say'. This, whilst eliciting a laugh from the audience, is a sentiment that is slowly proved wrong over the next fifty-five minutes. The performance is a strange beast, more of an exploration of the writing process than a show itself, but still somehow a finished article. The title, Adamsdale explains, comes from a creative writing exercise from his university days, in which a word is selected as a focus before being expanded on.

Borders is at times hilarious, bathetic and baffling, and constantly engaging. This may be his best work yet.

In this case the word is 'borders', and is soon established as the concept that the show hinges on. Many borders are examined across the performance: geographical, social and metaphysical, but it is those that Adamsdale blurs that become the most interesting. Early on, the border between spectator and performer is broken by his swapping places with an audience member, and more crumble in turn under his relentless exploration. Utilising a pad and paper, typographical and compositional borders are examined, along with the border between writing and performance that Adamsdale crosses in his very attempt to present his creative process to an audience. The main border that is blurred however, is that found between fact and fiction. Running alongside his personal storyline consisting of anecdotes about his wife and his need for an orthopaedic chair, and his creative storyline involving looming deadlines and various trips to London borough borders, is a third narrative thread concerning his obsession with the advertising campaign of a certain high-street bank. As the show progresses, this fixation becomes more and more fantastical, until the three elements (already very much entwined) collide in a bizarre and beautiful finale.

The reason that this show works despite its apparent removal from reality, is Adamsdale's performance. By playing the ultimate unreliable narrator, coupled with a very personal and truthful delivery, the story functions as a whole. Punctuated with half-finished songs, projected slides and moments of true theatre, Borders is at times hilarious, bathetic and baffling, and constantly engaging. This may be his best work yet. 

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The Blurb

This show's about borders. Borders over land, across time, down the side of the piece of paper I'm writing this on... (At least that's the plan at the deadline for this blurb. What lies ahead for my plucky little stagecoach of a show as it crosses this borderline? Who knows? The whole thing could well be hijacked by an interest I can’t seem to shake in a now extinct tribe of animated people that until recently populated all the advertising for a well-known high street bank). Perrier winner 2004. ‘A virtuoso of the transcendentally absurd’ (NY Times).

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