Venue: Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Actors: Artcha James and Katie P
April 23rd 2008:
With an abrupt entrance, Artcha James and Katie P filled the small stage at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre. I was seated perfectly to watch both performers, as they stood in their positions: Katie lay sprawled on the floor, juxtaposed with Artcha's upright and rigid form. They maintained this for a little longer than necessary and with the promise of 'movement' in the advertising campaign, for a moment I thought I was watching the wrong play.
Adi-diction is about a young man by the name of Joe, who is addicted to trainers (hence the play on the word Adidas and Addiction to form the title). The 'story' does not unfold with your typical beginning, middle and end. Instead, it reveals itself in a sequence of soliloquies and confessions to the audience, often accompanied by music. Starting with Artcha, Joe's struggle is evident as he attempts to theorise the problem. Meanwhile Katie skips the bull and breaks it down, educating us on the variation of brands and styles: Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok, Airforce 1, Classic, Airmax, Superstar, Finster, Shox, Campus. Not being a connoisseur of trainers, I was lost among the lengthy list; but was quickly brought back into the fold, when the words 'honeydew', 'French lavender' and 'sweet cotton' escaped her lips - transporting me into her candy coloured world of laces and leather.
Whilst Artcha's role is evident from the get-go, Katie's takes a while to come to light. At one point she curled into the foetal position around Artcha's feet and as he stood, feet cocooned and lost in her embrace, I mistook her for a metaphor. Further on I realised Katie was not there to symbolise the trainer, both Artcha and Katie are Joe, just different sides of the same person. This is classic Freud: the ego and the id, the reality principle and the pleasure principle. Katie revels in the addiction, Artcha philosophizes it. A clever twist occurs when towards the end of the play you see Artcha change into the id, as Katie becomes the ego.
The clarity of roles makes for a more interesting play as it allows you to place yourself in the situation, substituting the trainer for your own vice. The ability to become so caught up in something, or someone, comes so easily to many of us that we are often unaware it is happening.
Although both performers were comfortable in front of their audience I was somewhat distracted by the often awkward mirroring of each other's movements across the stage. I understand the purpose, to convey the confusion and miasma, but at times it looked as if they were moving to justify the use of the word in the play's promotion. Despite this their confidence is evident in their delivery, Artcha floats easily between conversational speech and rap and back again; whilst Katie's palette of emotion, from calm to humorous to rage, emphasises the psychosis of Joe's predicament.
Though not flawless, Adi-diction is an interesting exploration of how a passion for even the most innocent of trappings can spiral out of control.
© Rachelle Hull 2008