Juan Gomez and Ollie Ayres both star as Adam, showing the complementary and contrasting nature of his personality, which links back to the contronyms (words that have two opposing meanings) that they discuss throughout the play. The opposite yet same "parts" of Adam struggle as they try to find a sense of wholeness. This fight becomes evident particularly when Adam begins taking his testosterone injections, and it is acted out powerfully and honestly.
The pair might be portraying a real person but their similarly lived experiences bring an authenticity that is not often seen on stage. Further to playing Adam, the two also depict numerous other people in Adam’s life including his parents and colleagues. It’s the interactions with his mother and the desperate need for a child to be loved by a parent no matter what, that hits the hardest. Ayres finds a great balance of ignorance, humour and affection as the mother with Gomez gently revealing Adam's vulnerability as he seeks acceptance and recognition.
Jacob Thomas' sound direction ensures that Poet’s words remain the focus of our attention. Their pacing allows each word of every scene that Adam shares to connect with us, and provide time to sit with them and reflect on his circumstances. This is highlighted during his kiss with a colleague and the subsequent sexual assault he endures from his manager. We don't see this re-enacted but the words - and Ayres’ delivery - carry much weight that you can’t not visualise it.
The intelligent set design by Jac Arncliff works on various levels in heightening the emotional impact of what we witness. A number of televisions are used to show Adam’s turmoil and conflict and to represent the idea of how we project ourselves to others. Mannequins and their stray limbs are placed around the televisions, signifying the dissatisfaction and separation of self and body.
Adam may be a story of a transgender man fighting to live freely, but its exploration of Adam’s thoughts and emotions result in this being a universal story of always striving for the best in life. We can all appreciate and empathise with a person who simply wants to be, and going through whatever they must to make this happen.
Click here for my interview with Jacob Thomas and Ollie Ayres.
Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park
Season: until 8 February | Tues - Sat 8:00pm, Sat 4:00pm
Duration: 80 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Midsumma Festival
Image Credits: Ali Choudry