Review by Tatum Stafford
Adam Lenson is a medical student turned theatre director, whose one-man show ‘Anything That We Wanted To Be’ centres around big decisions in his life. Should he have stuck with medicine? What if his name was Gary, not Adam? And most crucially, what if he had had the mole on his back looked at with enough notice to reduce his chances of stage 3 cancer?
This show, which takes place in the intimate Cairns Lecture Theatre at Summerhall, is a story of ‘what ifs’. Throughout the hour, Adam takes us through an extensive series of ‘days’ in his life, punctuated by three different-era televisions, to share stories from his childhood, college days, and career as a theatre maker. There’s a pulsing beat throughout the show (perhaps thanks to his looping pedal, and interesting soundscapes that include Tetris music) that leads up to and around ‘day 0’, the day he was diagnosed with cancer.
Adam’s story is a very powerful one, and this production gives the audience a deep and intimate glimpse at his life and thought processes behind decisions and choices he has made along the way. Adam’s writing is raw and relatable, and he is a magnetic storyteller.
The set, graphics, sound and other technical aspects of this production are super impressive, especially in such a small playing space. Even though the Tuesday afternoon performance had a slight technical glitch at one point, the team got things back on track in no time, and all of these elements worked harmoniously and slickly. Well done to Libby Todd for set design, lighting design by Sam Waddington, graphics by Guy J Sanders and sound and technical production design by Christian Czornyj.
Hannah Moss’ direction was really solid, and created some lovely moments amongst the somewhat (intentionally) busy set.
The show’s themes are quite heavy, but Adam brought such a lovely levity to the piece and used it to inspire, rather than lecture. When he (spoilers) ‘met’ different versions of himself, it was a touching moment, and a reminder to live in the present and keep in mind that every decision we make has a flow-on effect. Though Adam spoke of regrets throughout the show, the overarching theme was one of hope and positivity, which is not always easy to achieve – kudos to him and the team for this fantastic piece of theatre. Catch it at Summerhall and enjoy his stunning storytelling ability.