Review: Anything That We Wanted To Be, Adam Lenson, Ed Fringe, By Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Adam Lenson, studying Doctor turned Theatre Director, who is hit with a curve ball in his 30’s of a cancer diagnosis… sounds made up but this is the true story of Anything That We Wanted To Be.

Lenson has created this theatrical piece, meets nostalgic reminiscence and electronic gig to bring across the story of his diagnosis and the thought we all have of: would this have happened to me in another universe?

We are propelled back and forth from early life to now, to life before him and his diagnosis. He questions the “what if” and the sad “why me” that we all ask when something bad happens. He uses this time travel to enhance his story but also to compare the then and now and turn this into positives.

It may sound like a super serious and existential narrative, and so it should be, but there is absolute hilarity involved. The return to our child-like essence when we face time with our parents, no matter what age; the odd comedic outlook on situations and looking at the past; the matter of fact approach when he relieves his younger self. It’s also endearing – Lenson has chosen not to use voice overs from other people or by imitation: the doctor, his parents, his brother, all have his voice and there’s something intimate but also a very clever about this when it could be so easy to dissociate the characters we can’t see. We in fact see it as his memory, his interpretation and something quite personal from Lenson’s mind.

Lenson creates music and soundscapes in front of us and it’s not always a catchy number that we’d want the CD of after. It can be haunting and just noise, crescendo-ing into something uncomfortable when his thoughts are overwhelming, and it works, breaking up the monologue and giving us something elevated but also ambient.

Anything We Wanted To Be is a soulful, vulnerable production; raw and laid bare, Lenson has been very clever with theatrical techniques to make this retelling not just a story but a very interesting, fun and emotional production.

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