The Reason I Jump
- Lorna Irvine
- 2 July 2018
Magical realism in immersive family show about joys and difficulties of autism
There is a Zen-like calm in Graham Eatough's production for the NTS, based on the book non-verbal Japanese teenager Naoki Higashida wrote aged thirteen. Part labyrinth, part adventure playground, the Children's Wood has been transformed into an interactive show. Particular emphasis is paid on autistic children and their families, as Higashida wrote the book as a stepping stone for neurotypical people to better comprehend how to cope with preconceptions and experiences around the condition.
There is, as the performers dotted around the woods state, no one common experience of autism. Cheeky Emma McCaffrey explains how hard it can be to communicate using fifty eight jars of caterpillars (one for each question in the book) and how overwhelming it can be to live with a brain flooded with obsessive circular thoughts, panic and so on. Nicola Tuxworth brings a youthful defiance, linking strength of character to physical strength in martial arts. At the fireside, Michael Dawson recalls his later diagnosis, bringing an older person's perspective and a sense of outrage at the stigmatisation he faced growing up.
Andre Dekker and Geert van de Camp's design, of wooden lattice fencing and labyrinths, are both attractive and utilitarian. Gavin Glover's beautiful masks are donned during performances of fables from the book, musings on mortality and the calming influence of nature. It's a touching and often profound meditation on autism and its joys as well as obstacles. Yet, given that the audience are encouraged to explore at their own pace, the lack of spontaneity as members are being led around is a little frustrating.
Children's Wood and North Kelvin Meadow, Glasgow, run ended