Arcola Outside, the Arcola’s new outdoor theatre, brags a spacious auditorium and a modern feel, with raw wood seating and shipping containers repurposed as a bar and a tech box. Will Adolphy’s The Narcissist settles perfectly in this newly crafted space, the elevated stage serving as a platform for the writer’s revelations on narcissism within the human condition, and the pew-like seating placing us as the congregation for his comedic preaching.
Just shy of an hour long, this one man show uncovers the narcissist in us all and shows the world through a sceptical lens of selfish behaviour used to obtain happiness. Adolphy, sporting galaxy leggings and a graphic ‘choose your own reality’ tshirt after an energetic striptease, is admittedly delusional in his self-importance, yet still a likeable and enigmatic character. Armed with the simple aid of a flipchart presentation, he tells of how being cultured seems to boil down to reading the guardian, drinking oat milk and how love is merely a transactional relationship. The cynicism continues with audience-faced questions of ‘are you important?’, ‘are you generous?’, ‘are you willing to give one of your countless pairs of socks to help the homeless?’. The answer to the last question surprisingly being a resounding yes from the evening’s audience, as a barrage of socks were hurled onto stage like smelly confetti (mine included).
The flamboyance of a Justin Timberlake impression and an entire audience-participated song about Adolphy’s penis are just the tip of the iceberg, punctuating the evening with laughs and joy whilst the message prevails; the message that, in essence, everything we do is for our own self-gain, and that in turn leads to happiness. We are all narcissists.
The tag team of Adolphy’s writing and Gemma Aked-Priestley’s direction culminates in a raucously fun, dramatic and entirely self-indulgent performance, such that not even the chants of ‘it’s coming home’ from the neighbouring pub, during England’s clash with Denmark, could detract from it. If you’re up for an hour of laughter, willing to go home sockless or just want Adolphy’s number (no seriously, it is both on the flipchart and in the programme), get yourself down to Arcola Outside for your own narcissistic gain.
Written and Performed by: Will Adolphy
Directed by: Gemma Aked-Priesley
Sound Design by: Sam Glossop
Movement direction by: Nicky Griffiths
The Narcissist is playing at Arcola Outside until 11 July. Further information via the below link.