written by and starring
There are actually parts of the BAC that haven’t been commandeered by Punchdrunk for their immersive production of The Masque Of The Red Death. Indeed, a small portion of the building has been left free of all things Edgar Allan Poe-related.
Studio 68, is an intimate little space with a chequer-board floor and its own little bar tucked in the corner. And it’s currently the home of Will Adamsdale’s latest show, The Human Computer, a work that follows on from his Perrier-award winning Jackson’s Way and his more recent The Receipt.
Adamsdale’s shows are part theatre, part stand-up, if we have to put a box around them, which I rather wish we didn’t. They are what they are, and going by this, they are very funny indeed. In The Human Computer Adamsdale celebrates his ignorance in matters of modern technology, he turns technophobia into an asset, using his lack of understanding of computers as the basis for an inspired dissection of how they work. Or, at least, how he believes them to work. This is all illustrated with the aid of numerous battered bits of cardboard, which Adamsdale has endearingly fashioned into the windows and icons of a PC.
There’s a large audience participation element to the show, which was given an interesting twist on the quiet Monday evening I was in, as the majority of those present ended up being assigned tasks by Adamsdale (including his mum, who was in attendance that night). Some audience members got to play ‘spam’, dashing on stage to disrupt things whenever the mood struck then, others had to provide the sound of the double click of the mouse at certain points in the show.
Adamsdale’s delivers his material in a sweetly flustered manner, though it’s clear from the superbly timed throw-away lines, the beautifully constructed asides, that there’s a skilled writer and performer beneath this tongue-tied persona. The show is peppered with wonderfully absurd flights of imagination, stories that don’t really go anywhere but are still very amusing (there’s one about hitting a seven year old girl with a stick) and even a comedy song, complete with guitar accompaniment, that drew some real laughs from the audience.
In its last quarter the show goes off on a tangent, as Adamsdale becomes ‘trapped’ in his computer. We are suddenly pitched into a surreal sequence where he is forced to go on a virus-busting quest across the mountains of the internet, with just a cardboard arrow icon and a big pointy finger for company. While this was still pretty amusing stuff, it didn’t match the levels of hilarity in the earlier parts of the show and it rambled on for rather too long.
Still Adamsdale’s desire to experiment with form and with narrative, to push his material in new directions, is to his credit and even with this odd sequence, The Human Computer remains one of the funniest things I’ve seen in quite some time. It certainly deserves to play to fuller rooms than it did on the night I was in.