The hour-long show started and ended with a circle of light on a sparsely furnished stage. Jon Pointing, as his alter ego Cayden Hunter, walks slowly on to on to the stage dressed in his high laced tan boots and bikers’ style leather jacket. He sits, he looks out into the darkened auditorium, curls the word “Hey!” from his lips, then winks seductively. Everyone is immediately hooked.
The intimacy and warmth of the performance was evident from the first utterance. He was talking to me: that’s what everyone must have thought – they were correct. Everybody relaxed and the Jon Pointing: Act Natural show began.
Audience participation was requested – and most people eagerly complied to be rewarded by the special arrangement of his face flashing the broadest smile.
This comedic performance of a performance workshop was a masterclass in acting. The audience giggled and guffawed at Cayden Hunter and themselves – as neither entity existed without the other. There was joy on both sides of the new, temporary relationship.
After dramatically kicking off his boots, Cayden Hunter became the barefooted acting tutor who circled the stage and smoothly demonstrated the cycle of life from his montage described as the birth of an actor, to his closing sequence of a graphic death with everything in between – relationships, love, bills, and even murder by car.
Every subject matter deftly touched upon by Jon Pointing started a chain effect of laughter in the audience. Even apparent silence caused mirth to echo in the theatre. When Ponting sat silently centre stage his face came alive. Decades of drama were shown variously through seemingly vacant eyes, followed by the slightest movement of a leg, finger, arm or shoulder. His silence shouted. We understood and we laughed.
Additionally his use of liquid innuendoes such as ‘I found the actor inside of me, now let me come inside of you and do the same,’ fuelled the ever-present layers of laughter that simmered throughout his time on the stage.
Ponting had mesmerised the audience from the moment he stepped on the stage and began his poetry sequence, yet he repeatedly invited the audience to join him – letting them think they had free will because they had all become his mirrors before he raised his arm and invited them all to duplicate his movements.
The narcissistic Cayden Hunter was enigmatic as he showed that everything has a story in it, and nothing is just… a letter, a chair, or ‘just’ anything.
Moving easily from eating placenta paté with his birthing partner to bringing theatre to the Calais jungle (where it was obviously more desired than bread or water according to Hunter), Ponting with his minimalistic set was the perfect puppet master and the audience were his subjects to manipulate at will. Everything was comedy fodder in this show and it worked beautifully – with minimal discomfort to anyone concerned.
This was a class in immersive theatre and improvisation – much needed when an audience member broke the unwritten rule and tried to make themselves the main act.
This metatheatre was a welcomed break of comedy gold dust on a summer’s evening. Watching an actor acting as an actor was the perfect rabbit hole in which to disappear on a Friday evening in June. A late summer solstice’s gift to Liverpool.
As the closing act finished it followed the path of a death scene that cleverly morphed from a hospital emergency room location to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and I thought, ‘that’s a shame’ – not taking the shine off the brilliance of the act, but the fact that the show was only booked in Liverpool for one night, and may not be performed again for many months. A true shame.
As the final round of hearty applause died down Ponting acknowledged the assistance of his step-father – who was in the audience – in the creation and production of the show. Jon Pointing: Act Natural is truly ‘how to do theatre’. Every actor should see this.
The evening’s performance was a spectacular act. Bravo. Jon Pointing: Act Natural deceived me into thinking you weren’t acting, that you were just sharing stories from your real everyday life with me. Brilliant.
Marjorie is a freelance writer who has had articles published in the Guardian, redpepper and gal-dem. She blogs and tweets regularly about social and cultural events that cross her radar. She is also a playwright who has been short-listed for the Kenneth Branagh Drama Writing Awards 2018.