Fringe Online 2021
We begin with the call to emergency services at the lowest ebb that Adam, born in female form, was suffering. Originally from Alexandria in Egypt, Adam’s journey shows us conflict with his parents, leaving home and travelling to the UK interspersed with being interrogated by Customs and supported by a sexual health worker whilst exploring, developing and suffering the abuse he faced as someone born in a body, in a place where to be himself could have ended his life.
I did not go and see this live. More fool me.
This was an astonishing hymn to change which highlights that the biggest change is to be found in those who watch. This was a compelling script before the theatricality brought it to life, but good theatre must begin with a story worth telling. The narrative twisted and turned throughout but had a subtlety and a beauty which undercut some of the searing brutality faced by such a gentle soul.
Adam, played by Adam Kashmiry himself, in this autobiographical piece, written by Frances Poet, has managed to walk the tender tightrope between taut explanation and homage to the guts of a man who seeks a simple truth be told on his behalf – that he could be a man and a very good son.
The structure of the piece works exceptionally well as the flashbacks to his experiences in Egypt add to the unnerving feeling of how he is being treated by the border force trying to halt his progress. It does not act as counterpoint because both show the searing vulnerability of him whilst underlining the exceptional determination of someone who knows who he is, but simply need others to notice too.
It is this vulnerability which works so well. At no point were we lectured or made to feel that we needed to be educated. The simplicity of the message was exceptionally well delivered. Diversity was no token but a brilliant deep dive into a world where you got to see how real diversity has a human touch.
Although filmed, it retained its theatrical background which meant we had a glimpse of how it would be staged. It benefited from the lighting being the dominant feature though the design as able to peak through in shadow and under the glare of full strip lighting.
I particularly found the tenderness of the make up lesson, the betrayal in the downstairs of the department store and the scenes with his mother amazingly well drawn and filled in.
Directed with great skill, the performances were ably supported with a direction that knew where it was going and synthesized this approach in a highly effective manner. The camera did not linger but sought out the angles for us. Relationships were clear and given space to develop whilst never dragged into an area where we were wanting to move on, find out what happened next but stayed dwelling in the present conflict to find out more – as much about ourselves as about the story.
I was particularly struck by the scene with the customs official, the significantly vulnerable mother who managed to be all about love but also about her own hope and dream for her daughter with such dignity. These were not high dramatic points but filled with a dignity and humanity which was as illustrative as complex. We got to see the divergent views on display.
What shall live most in my memory was the scene of self mutilation which, for the first time in a long time, made me wince, cringe and cry at a piece of theatre. I knew then how invested I was in the whole affair and it was an emotional overdraft.
Oh, and then let’s end with the choir from all over the world. Such simplicity, beauty and a message that again showed how the simplest can be the most effective.
Adam has a significant beauty, a tender tale told with a tenacious spirit.
But, let’s be vigilant. Adam heightens the understanding, underlines the seriousness of suffering and makes us more aware. To think that the job is done would be to take the memory of such an impressive piece of art and abuse its memory. Theatre reminded me not just of Adam but of all the other Adams, who tonight do not have the same luxury of a BBC platform. If it means anything more, theatre must ask us to change. I was already there. My task is now to convince someone else to be there with me. Powerful stuff this theatre malarkey…