Adam Welsh has an identity problem, as an actor, he struggles to come up on Google, his wife misheard his name when they met and has the name Adam Walsh in her contacts ever since. Adam Walsh is also the name of a high-profile murder victim, whose death in 1981 triggered a more public approach to missing children and lead to his father becoming a famous US TV presenter.
Welsh finds parallels between him and Walsh, they both have fathers called John and after Adam’s mother tells him a story about him going missing for hours during a family holiday Welsh wonders what would have happened if his story had been more like Walsh’s.
Adam Welsh is a charismatic, energetic performer and initially this connection seems tedious at best but it is ultimately about his relationship with his parents, who both suffered childhood traumas that saw one parent become overprotective and the other distant as well as his own concerns about his presence as an actor and as a person (has he let his father down who re-mortgaged his house to provide his private education) but also questions what would happen to Adam Walsh if he had been found safe; would his father John Walsh become one of America’s most famous faces, would the Walsh family have gone on to have further children?
The production is very sensory, with video (I found the usage of the TV movie about Adam Walsh’s disappearance strangely haunting, it is shot like a horror film) and music dominating the production, whilst it could be tightened up it is ultimately building to an emotional climax about his relationship with his parents and with each other. His recounts of both Adams disappearance are impactful; when the details of how Walsh are found are revealed I found my jaw had fallen to the floor.
At the beginning of the play, Welsh recalls a phone call from his parents as he played video games; his father repeatedly asking him if he needed help. I think after There for the Grace of God (Go I) Adam Welsh is doing just fine as a performer and creator if this production is anything to go by.
There but for the Grace of God (Go I) is on until 8 August https://sohotheatre.com/shows/there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-i/