Pros: An unusual one-man piece with well formed characters. Entertaining and at times compelling.
Cons: Some characters are stronger than others. The nudity is not entirely justified.
The Bunker is an interesting space, nestled (as one might expect) underground next to the Menier Chocolate Factory by London Bridge. A decently sized performance area, comfortable seats and a cosy bar; I am certain to return.
This Is Not Culturally Significant represents the most recent iteration of a long-term project by Adam Scott-Rowley. It’s a one-man show, drawing characters from every avenue of age, gender and social background. The stories entertain, and cleverly intertwine – some more directly than others. Scott-Rowley is clearly an adept performer with an eye for character, and good physical instincts. Impromptu interaction with some latecomers was seamlessly absorbed. Some characters are, inevitably, more developed than others, but it doesn’t dull the impact of the show.
The choice of nudity for a costume is guaranteed to stimulate debate. Scott-Rowley is clearly a confident young man, passionate about his art. Clad solely in white body paint, hair cropped short, he has an androgynous quality about him that lends itself to a transformative show. The nudity is embraced, and incorporated into the performance. I wasn’t shocked by it, but I could see how others might be. Ultimately I believe that nudity in art needs to be justified. The question I asked myself was ‘would I have enjoyed the show less if there hadn’t been a penis swinging about?’ – I had to answer no and therefore, unfortunately, view the nudity as a gimmick. It doesn’t disrupt the show, but any distraction from a fine performance must be seen as a negative.
The set comprises a single chair, used to great effect, and a microphone. Scott-Rowley displays an ability to adapt inanimate objects that would earn admiration from the most gifted improv artist. Lighting is used sparingly, but also to good effect, often in times of emotional stress. This could potentially have seemed clichéd but in my view it worked well.
There was something of a standing ovation at the end of the performance. I salute Scott-Rowley’s bravery, ingenuity and skill. I can honestly say that This Is Not Culturally Significant is unlike any other show I’ve experienced. I was often moved, to laughter and to empathy. Yet something in it falls short of a truly great piece. Without the phallic distraction, maybe I would be rating it higher. That said, if you’re looking for a show that will entertain you and make you think without changing your life, this could be for you.
Written and Directed By: Adam Scott-Rowley
Producer: Out of Spite Theatre & Jamie Eastlake Productions
Booking Link: https://www.bunkertheatre.com/whats-on/this-is-not-culturally-significant
Booking Until: 3 June 2017