As a motivational speaker, Chris John Jackson leaves something to be desired. As an inveterate advocate of nonsense and spreader of good cheer, however, he is without peer.
Air-punching, self-help babble-spouting American Jackson has been the alter-ego of Englishman Will Adamsdale for many years now, yet nothing about this bombastic, manically cheerful character seems tired or squeezed. As he himself admits, there have been some changes in his life – his house, his car and his wife have disappeared, possibly together – but now he’s back, older and wiser and ready to rock. Ok, maybe not wiser.
‘Jackson’s Way’ is a sort of DADA for our age; it is based on the appreciation and promotion of all things pointless and futile. As he says, there are so many more pointless activities in this world than point-ful ones, so why not tap into this rich vein? He illustrates his points with a series of Powerpoint charts and images which are almost, but not quite, entirely irrelevant to what he is saying.
His insane enthusiasm is infectious, and soon the audience is busy helping him stop a towel from falling by shouting “DAN!” at it, attempting to move the floor, discussing exotic insects at the top of the stairs “er…Cockroach?” and wearing tea towels on their heads. Contractually obliged to mention Christmas at least 80 times during the show, he resorts to acting out a superbly entertaining nativity with the vast quantities of junk and “nearly-junk” which he drags around with him wherever he goes, and endearingly refers to as “The Team”. Absurd? Certainly. Fun? No question about it.
Occasionally his frenzied energy falters, his patter starts to stutter, his smile slips, and a lonely vulnerability can be glimpsed beneath the determinedly positive facade. But, make no mistake about it, this is entirely deliberate on Adamsdale’s part. His iron control over both his character and the show is absolute. It takes a certain type of genius to make a performance seem so utterly spontaneous, to keep things teetering on the edge of chaos without quite letting them tipple over into the abyss, and this talent Will Adamsdale has in spades. As to how much of Jackson is actually autobiographical – well, we can only speculate.
An evening spent in Chris John Jackson’s company is a celebration of the stupid, an ode to the outrageous, a hymn to the hilarious. Everybody goes out into the night smiling and feeling good, and, after all, isn’t that the whole point of a Motivational Address? Maybe Jackson is actually achieving his aim despite himself. Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. And I firmly believe that if anyone could succeed in moving the floor, that man would be Chris John Jackson.
Review by Genni Trickett
JACKSON’S WAY: THE CHRISTMAS TOP-UP POWER SEMINAR!
Will Adamsdale’s Perrier Award-winning self-help spoof returns with a festive twist.
“Was 2015 a win folks? Did u achieve? Did you maximise?… I’m hearing a lot of ‘no’s and that s where I come in!”
There’ll be plenty here for initiates and rookies alike as Jackson, the author of Jackson, Just a Man (vol. 1 and 2), hits London again and comes to terms with a decade out of the spotlight…
Where’s he been? What’s he been up to? Did he really try to coach Santa Claus?
“I’ve tailor made this power seminar just for you (All of you!) and – with my unique life method (voted – by various studies – a more succesful franchise than Christianity and capitalism combined!) – there’s absolutely no reason we cant ALL win in 2016! Office parties welcome! Couples in trouble welcome!… I’ve had trouble with bachelor parties but ok they can come too!”
1st to 12th December 2015 – 8.00pm
Battersea Arts Centre
London SW11 5TN