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This Is Not Culturally Significant at VAULT Festival – Review

This Is Not Culturally SignificantTaking a no-nonsense approach to the sort of problems people create themselves nowadays, Adam Scott-Rowley has written a very pacey and very powerful piece of theatre. Demeaning, disturbing and difficult to watch. And yet there was much laughter coming from the audience. As well as much silence. And much ‘should we laugh?’ ‘Why is someone laughing?’ ‘Am I the only person not laughing?’

Some topics, bodily functions, for example, are easy to giggle at, and indeed some people find them hilarious. But then there are crude elements, darker topics, and the reactions are mixed. Scott-Rowley has gone all out to move it up a level from when he first performed the show at Edinburgh Fringe in 2016. This time he is performing the show naked.

Very brave. But is it necessary? In an interview with Chris Cooke at thisweektalks.com he explains that he wanted more vulnerability and quite literally no barriers to differentiate between characters. It’s not a gimmick, it’s to add the extra level of openness. It’s hard to imagine, having seen it, it being performed in all black clothes. It really does give it the extra vulnerability and extra intensity.

However, it is the acting and the different characterisations that we are fixed on, not the appearance. Scott-Rowley switches between each unnamed character with ease. Unnamed, but labelled with the stereotypes which we all recognise. Sometimes they flow straight from one to another, sometimes they appear abruptly. Sometimes, Scott-Rowley bounces between them, demonstrating, even more skill and discipline than he has already. A true master at his art. At times, he switches back to this man, in front of us all, coping with all these different characters, and it’s especially in those moments that we are aware he has no clothes. He is in a fragile state.

It may be odd to compare such a bizarre and harrowing show to Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean, but with the ease at which he adopts the entirety of each character and the new focus he brings each time, this is what sprung to mind. They are larger than life characters and cover a whole array of personalities and yet they are utterly believable.

Overall, a brilliant piece of theatre, unique in its form and delivered perfectly. Even the lighting and sound effects are bang on time and complement, never used unnecessarily. The audience find themselves caring for some characters, shying away from others, and pitying more. The amazing buzz this show has created is entirely valid. Scott-Rowley deserves recognition for his attention to detail and dedication in both acting and writing. Go and see it, not unless you are, but especially if you are, a bit of a prude. It’ll shake you up.

4 stars

Review by H Hemming

This Is Not Culturally Significant is an intense and darkly comic one-man show which unveils the bizarre, compulsive and eccentric nature of humanity.
Over ten characters are portrayed; from a pathologically lying classics professor to a despondent American porn star on the brink of her retirement.
This is a thunderous, high energy piece of theatre combining dark clown and deeply grotesque bouffon which holds up a mirror to the often unnoticed absurdities of human life.

Out of Spite Theatre was founded by Adam Scott-Rowley and strives to create confrontational, unsettling and high-intensity theatre. This Is Not Culturally Significant is the company’s first show, which aims to unmask the superficiality of our society’s expectations, desires and collective ego.

This Is Not Culturally Significant.


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