You Are Going To Die – Southwark Playhouse Borough | Review

I would tell you what this show was about, if only I knew: the title is a certainty for us all, assuming a longitudinal enough outlook and a conventional definition of death. One patron is asked what he thought happens after we die. “Nothing,” he said, and that was that, aside from a brief response about how nobody really knows. To begin with, one of Adam Scott-Rowley’s characters – there are several – is sat on a toilet seat. After a few moments of guttural utterances, he finally says something coherent.

You Are Going To Die. Created and performed by Adam Scott-Rowley. Photo by Ryan Buchanan.
You Are Going To Die.
Created and performed by Adam Scott-Rowley.
Photo by Ryan Buchanan.

To be fair, the physical theatre elements in the show are impressive, and Scott-Rowley has much of the audience in the palms of his hands throughout, with raucous laughter somehow resulting from the simplest of movements, such as shuffling about or even a sideways glance at a couple of latecomers as they tiptoed in. He finally shut them up with an aggressive rant, laden with expletives and insults towards an unseen character, which he addresses only as ‘Your Majesty’, and for whom, and with whom – cue more giggling – he performed a sexual act.

The production was difficult to understand, at least for me. It was, in a word, despite the explicit content and a song about a dildo, impenetrable, worshipping ‘Your Majesty’ (pronouns unknown) one moment, before indulging in self-loathing, and quickly switching again to an archetypal alpha male who shouts his sudden self-declared supremacy, yelling something about being at the top of the food chain. These may have been three entirely different characters; they could be one and the same – I couldn’t tell. “My little pussy is in Heaven,” Scott-Rowley deadpans in another scene, referring, of course, to the deceased cat of yet another character, but such a statement was indicative of the genital humour which permeates the show.

It doesn’t, however, go beyond different demonstrations of how death, or the possibility of death, is faced by various people. In one scene, what is presumably a child (given that they call out to their parents) has fallen down a well. What happens next, if anything, is unclear – surely the child’s relatives would realise they are missing sooner or later, for instance. Overall, the show does well to push boundaries, and indeed to push people’s buttons – I found some of the soundscape was unnecessarily loud, and older people were portrayed as being barely able to move, and only then painfully slowly. By contrast, in reality, the oldest participant in the 2024 London Marathon was 91 years old.

The lighting design (Matt Cater) has much to add, particularly in a performance performed entirely without clothes, changing appropriately with each scene. Intense and intriguing, it didn’t quite work for me, and I left the theatre with more questions than answers. That said, it is, for the most part, well-performed.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

The Production Exchange presents

Adam Scott-Rowley brings his extraordinary one-man show YOU ARE GOING TO DIE to Southwark Playhouse, Borough, following its critically acclaimed sold-out run at Summerhall for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Dreamlike and visceral and performed entirely naked, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE is a nail-biting descent into existential anxiety as humanity stares down the proverbial toilet.

Brilliantly surreal, the piece is a sublime meditation on annihilation, resting on the knife edge between physical theatre and performance art. Ideograms and archetypal forms offer a shared purge illuminating the darkest corners of the human psyche, whilst revealing compassion and humour in the most unlikely of places.

At once comic, bleak and beautiful, Scott-Rowley evokes a world at odds with itself, full of playful anarchic energy and mischievous bubbling humour, as his fantastical personas navigate the geometry of fear and the dark edges of existence and despair.

The running time is approx. 70 minutes without interval and the age guidance is 16+.


Created and performed by Adam Scott-Rowley
Co-created with Joseph Prowen and Tom Morley
Lighting Designed by Matt Cater
Finale Song Composition by Phil McDonnell

Thursday 18 April to Saturday 4 May 2024 at The Large, Southwark Playhouse, Borough

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