The Human Computer

Submitted by edg on Mon, 6 Aug '07 10.47pm
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Will Adamsdale
Will Adamsdale
Running time

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a show where the protagonist says he will "turn into a computer," but Will Adamsdale's credentials are promising. He was a Perrier Award-winner for Jackson's Way in 2004, and recipient of a Fringe First for The Receipt in 2006. He has also been 34 years on this planet, so he's old enough to remember the days before laptops and personal handheld organisers brushed typewriter, pad and pen aside.

A self-confessed Luddite, Adamsdale pitches his subject around the universal, low-common-denominator theme of the frustration and technophobia that we've all experienced, if not continue to experience everyday, when faced with daunting, new computer technology. His determinedly low-tech, light comedy, involves members of the audience playing their part by waving various rough-hewn, cardboard-cutout, desktop icons above their heads.

The lone man before us, with a few sparce props, he recalls how he resisted using a computer for so long - he jokes about how when his dad bought him an expensive new laptop the two of them never stopped admiring the case. But he never used the machine.

He goes to town - spending too long, even if he is right - on the language of PCs that is either unbearably opaque or so backwards in its thought processes that it asks you if you would like to continue what you are doing when you are trying to continue what you are doing or that you turn off the computer by clicking on "start".

Adamsdale in his bumbling way, doesn't so much as perform as chat away to you like an old friend. He's a storyteller with a boyish sense of fun, incorporating randomness and audience participation into the show. A member of the audience at one point directs Adamsdale the human computer by "double-clicking" windows on a cardboard computer desktop with a giant arrow on a broom handle (click and pop-up sound-effects provided by the audience). In a minor touch of brilliance, other audience members playing spam are told to appear on stage, holding their cardboard text pop-ups, at anytime during the performance, even when they are not wanted.

The comedy is remarkable because it's quite clean - apart from the very occasional sweary word (nothing too strong) it's child-friendly. Maybe the show, with its interactive elements, will appeal to a younger audience.

However, I found the humour uneven. At times, the jokes about shortcomings of computers seemed like they'd been dredged up from a Windows 98 recycle bin. As Adamsdale meanders from being the computer to falling into the computer and going on a Lord of the Rings type epic trip through cyberspace to kill a virus, I felt my attention flagging. As someone who spends a little too much time working with computers - don't we all? - it seems like there is so much more to say, even in a comedy, about how they are re-defining our world.

Times: 1-26 August, various times.