Soho Theatre (venue)
07 August 2018 (released)
In 1981 six-year old Adam Walsh vanished from a Florida shopping mall, his remains found washed up a short time later.
Thirty-one year old English actor Adam Welsh, prompted by a suggestion from his parents to ‘Google’ himself, (the act of verifying and measuring your ‘existence’ based on algorithms and an ego-driven quest for affirmation) found himself journeying down an internet rabbit hole (that led him to Walsh’s horrific story) that resulted in this one-man existential treatise on issues of identity in a world of multiple meanings, the quirks of fate, paths taken and untaken, examines ‘what’s in a name’ and asks who we think/really we are within the family set-up.
Through realising that his own ‘existence’ pales in comparison with the internet activity of a 37 year old murder case, Welsh utilises the similarity in names to retrace and evoke his own skirmishes with mortality, integrating testimonies from his parents about their own recollections of parenting, his dad a particularly warm, genial Geordie who bluntly admits that when Welsh was growing up ‘squash was more exciting’.
The show is augmented by an 1980s computer game called ‘Bobby is going home’ where the reality is there is no home, no end, a relentless loop wherein each attempt becomes more difficult, a searing metaphor for the passage of time and the endurance of evolving.
Additionally, the ‘multi-media’ show deploys re-enactments involving Lego figures, filmed insightful and moving interactions with his own parents (whose frank and open recollections of youth and folly are imbued with pathos: his dad’s teenage poetry a forerunning search for expression), a singing vocal that channels Morrissey’s aches and pains and uses excerpts from a US TV-movie concerning the Adam Walsh disappearance.
Welsh’s performance is one of deep emotions, a forensic analysis of identity therapy and the invisible ties that bind, an exploration of the atavistic fears and neuroses that are passed on from generation to generation unwittingly, how who we are and what we become is more complex than the simple binary of ‘nature or nurture’.
An erudite, heartfelt and highly emotive performance at whose end you’ll think you’ve got dust in your eyes.