Being Lent A Prism Lens: A Review of Jon Adams ‘Games with the Water Horse’

Stepping into the Pavillion Dance theatre hall, a silent library like reverence grips the room. I take a seat; not meaning to imply I stole it and left, rather that I took my place sitting in the chair, picking up and reading the card politely placed there.

Rule #1: The circle is my space

Looking up, in the centre of our seating circle is a wooden chair, appearing warmer than our purple cushioned metal. The chair is covered in a variety of props: a holstered gun lying underneath, a bag hung over its shoulder, a folded cloth atop its seat. The chair has a story, but I cannot hear it speaking yet. Around this chair is a rope circle, his space.

Rule #2 During the performance you may choose to stand or sit at anytime as long as you’re not blocking views.

This considerate allowance is intended to promote comfort and the optimal viewing experience for members of the audience. Upon reading this, I look up once again and scan the room to greet the others; it’s an intimate circle, in some way we’re part of the stage and the performance ourselves. Our relationship to one another and the conversations we have even in hushed, respectful silence are surprisingly revealing. Though chairs were all free to begin with, we are spaced out evenly around the circle’s circumference, with perhaps the chairs backside being the only spot uninhabited.

Rule#3 If I look you in the eye you must ‘hold’ my stare whilst I read to you.

After reading this, the lights go out. A soundscape plays highlighting how sound can seem louder when another sense is taken away. Sight doesn’t seem to be a major player right now, I close my eyes and get swept away in my own head. Lost in thought at how the sound of the waves can conjure a taste of sea salt on the tongue, or how hearing a heavy downpour the smell of wet tarmac wafts into the nose.

The lights come back on and Jon Adams enters the circle. He begins reading from a large stack of cards in his hand held together by a red thread, a royal and theatrical red not a dangerous or alarming red. The performance is a detailed account of the artist’s experience and musings, multiple stories intermingled into one coherent narrative. As each card is been read, it is pulled from the binding and tossed to the floor, eventually building into a mosaic of used words upon the stage floor.

Actions within the story are highlighted with a literal physical response, one example being after looking me in the eyes and reading to me Jon handed me the card he had read that ended with “Later I tear it out of the book, breaking the rules, and give it to Toshi as our parting gift.“, coincidentally that was the last time Jon read to me through the performance.

An in depth examination of an autistic mind, the story he tells is an incredibly illuminating, rich and rewarding experience. This heartfelt and passionate piece is a mixture of poetry, art, history and humanity. Borrowing Jon’s lens for the evening, it’s shocking to realise how similar and completely different the human mind can be. The duality and revelation leaves you feeling shell shocked and I for one left the theatre a little punch drunk and dizzy from the explosive impact of the message.

Jon Adams is a fiercely unique voice and possibly the loudest speaking out on the topic of autism. If you would like to know more or get in contact you can follow him on Twitter @soundcube.

Words by Matt Miles



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