Zack Adams: A Complete History

(Metro Arts Theatre)


By Shane Adamczak

Semi-professional production

Cast: Shane Adamczak

It’s a catchy opening story: our character Zack first catches the acting bug in grade two, all of seven years old. But this is grand vision stuff, it’s destiny, the reason he was born was to tread the boards. Adamczak cleverly portrays the lisp through gappy teeth, the twitchy excited body language as he prepares for his one line in the Nativity Play; he drinks plenty of water, hums to warm his voice. Of course, on-stage he tangles the words in Spoonerisms, wets his pants and is dubbed “Zack the Christmas play wee boy.” After taking a break from show biz he emerges again as a Grade 7 super cool dude telling jokes that thud abysmally. He morphs into high school insecurity of re-establishing a fan base, which largely consists of Cassandra, a girl-friend who’s not a girlfriend because he’s too shy to ask her out. Then into tertiary drama and dance school, pursuing Jess the dancer who hisses “Noice leotard, you reotard.” As he’s busily dancing to impress her – with effective lighting and convincing movement, some training is evident – he sees she’s oblivious in the stands, pashing another girl.

It’s pretty obvious that this is largely autobiographical though Adamczak did graduate from WAAPA (West Australian Academy for Performing Arts) whereas his alter ego Zack confesses to never auditioning or enrolling and merely hanging around the cafeteria for three years. Right from the first scene the lanky, likeable lad in beanie and glasses (“it’s difficult to make repairs on your own glasses…”) draws our empathy with self-deprecating humour. Inevitably, there’s plenty of f-words and blokey fart jokes (“Am I the only one that’s done that?” i.e. crap in the bath.) But it’s not excessive or gratuitous. “No dick jokes” he reminds himself and proceeds to tell a joke about a soldier whose penis was obliterated by shrapnel.

The supporting music, aptly billed in the program as “Muzack (Sound Design)” and credited to Michael Fragomeni, reflects various moods. Adamczak frequently adds a change of timbre with his own voice – with signature rap (“Zack Zack Zack Adams”); singing an unaccompanied funeral eulogy for his mate Fender: “I’m gonna make it to heaven; light up the sky like a flame”, and his audience participation slot where he croons “Blue Moon” over our accompaniment. There’s the deep and meaningful song; it’s lonely travelling with a solo show so when I’m lonely, it’s a comfort that there’s someone watching over me, the big guy in the sky. You know who I mean – the saviour with long hair and a really big dick, kept in a jar, he was nearly a Czar – Rasputin.

In an effective final song he accompanies his decent singing voice with guitar. This versatility sustains the long-distance of a solo show. He’s also wisely given himself time-out and a change of pace for the audience by turning on the television for a Big Brother sequence in which he’s filmed playing half a dozen varied roles; a range of uptight or loony housemates and the fluffy presenter.

Soon he’s in the chair pleading to leave the house; “Can I vote myself off?” “No. Read your contract you whining bastard.” After he realises he’s really “made a dick of himself. the prick that comes second”, he now has to fulfil three months of unpaid media engagements. Worse, he’s sold out, so drinks himself senseless and into a pool of vomit; “My 15 minutes of fame were up and I had wasted them on reality TV.” He’s briefly “bloody delusional” enough to consider repeating his mistakes by tackling America – after all Heath Ledger and Hugh Jackman made it big. Instead he skulks onto another Virgin Blue plane home to his parents’ couch, though “I did tell Cassandra I love her; I left a message on her answer phone after she dropped me at the airport.”

Some of Zack’s most laugh-out-loud moments come out of his travels on Virgin Blue, first to Sydney for dodgy auditions, then to London and back to Perth. Same crap movie, same meal to throw up, this is your captain speaking. nah, just joking. His Centrelink segment gives wicked social comment and telling character vignettes; especially we enjoyed the dreadlocked hulk who swaggers in, leading with his crotch, to push to the front of the queue. There are Zack’s little games to pass the boredom of waiting in line, of flicking rubber bands and dobbing in someone near him, of jumping on the chairs to play “the floor is made of lava”. “Nah, just kidding. I thought of it.”

All up, Adamczak sustains audience interest well. He explores topics we can all relate to. He sings, he dances, he uses all the space. He changes pace and mood. We’re not rolling in the aisles throughout but there are sufficient solid belly laughs for us to leave feeling renewed. His take on life and hard times as a struggling actor has lifted us out of our own stresses of our week. Which is surely the point another Adams – Patch – made about the value of comedy.

Directed by Laura Motherway

Playing until July 29 at 8.15pm

Duration: 50 minutes, no interval

— Ruth Bonetti
(Performance seen: Fri 28th July 2006)