Adelaide Fringe 2014
Jackson! Le diner est prêt! is not for everyone. Some people might consider this to be academic, pretentious, wanky or navel-gazing work. This is work that requires a gift of faith from its audience – a covenant of opportunity: a promise that we will stay the course even when it seems that we may be lost at sea. The payoff for those of us who allow it to happen is fantastic. This is delicate, fragile exploratory work in the best sense, offering us a rare glimpse of the MMORPG playing, YouTube watching misfits we have become.
A show in two parts, Jackson! Le diner est prêt! explores, in its first part, sound, touch, and sensation through autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), an emerging YouTube phenomenon, and in its second part, looks into post-millennial loneliness, identity, friendship, and communication. In an effort to preserve the integrity of the performance, I won’t go into great detail as to what happens. It is worth noting that this is a media-heavy show, relying on audio-visual technology to achieve many of its effects, but despite all the expensive gadgets it has a homespun quality that is undeniable.
We have entered someone’s student flat – a slightly dingy room with peeling paint, lit errily by the flickering glow of a computer screen. Is this living? This twilight, not quite day and never fully night, where disembodied voices get inside our heads to scratch and tickle our brains. Stumbling, zombie-like, through the constant miasma of chronic insomnia and sensory overload, we follow Jackson down the electronic rabbit hole, led always onward by the sound of his voice. Ultimately, whatever gimmicks and experimental exploration may be going on, this is charming storytelling. It’s only too easy to get caught up in the miniature drama of it as the life in front of us unfolds.
Jackson! Le diner est prêt! is comforting and familiar, like an old blanket or a friend request from a highschool friend. It exists in the same space where rerun episodes of Red Dwarf and South Park do – in the perpetual youth of xkcd and Penny Arcade. There’s a kind of stultifying ease inherent in the semi-anonymous interactions we engage in on the net that’s at the heart of this performance. What role do we play as silent onlookers of this tiny ballad? Just as we are invited to dissect Jackson and his life, we must acknowledge the similarly passive position we place ourselves in. Do we sit in judgement? On whose authority?
It’s worth repeating that this is a particularly distinct vintage – certainly not to every theatre-goer’s liking, but for those of us willing to take a risk and invest in the work a little, the work is rich and multi-layered. Suited perfectly to the space it’s playing in – when we arrived Falling (the Twin Peaks theme) was playing in the lobby bar – this show will take you on a journey that’s difficult to classify. Open yourself to the experience and see what comes.