Though the title certainly promises adventure and excitement, comedian Jamie Campbell, the voice behind this true story, makes sure that it’s not quite the adventure you were expecting.
In his Cincy Fringe debut, Campbell uses his solo performance as a piece of cathartic storytelling for both himself and his audience. The Devil on the Wall or, That Time I Got Kidnapped is a rollercoaster ride through Campbell’s devastating childhood. From one abusive chapter to another, Campbell tells a story that has been kept secret for 25 years and describes ghastly childhood experiences in a mixture of sobering reflection and tongue-in-cheek stand-up comedy that ends in a kidnapping of an unexpected manner.
This story at the heart of his performance is an exceptionally difficult one to tell, and it’s clear that the experience of doing so is still relatively new. I suspect this newness might be a contributing factor to the somewhat rushed atmosphere of the performance that, at times, feels like a sprint when the subject matter is much more of a marathon of devastation and life lessons learned. Though this may certainly be due to opening night jitters, the performance could benefit from a slower speaking pace, which could provide some brief pauses for the audience to both process the humor and marinate in some of the more intense moments.
Though the subject matter and performance is genuinely emotional and heart-wrenchingly raw, Campbell never lets his emotions take complete control of the performance. He allows himself the gift of feeling but drives the story forward with exceptional control.
The Devil on the Wall or, That Time I Got Kidnapped is a shockingly intimate show that could be more polished. Ultimately, it takes a massive risk — which is what Fringe shows are all about. Campbell seizes the opportunity to share his brutal truth with an audience of complete strangers and, in doing so, invites us to share the weight of his past. Ultimately, he imparts a sense of connectivity and cathartic release for both himself and his audience.