Summerhall – Old Lab
Adam Scott-Rowley is a genius. His previous, equally provocative, work This Is not Culturally Significant received critical acclaim and toured extensively. It did also raise some eyebrows due to his choice to perform completely naked. Hence, if you disagree with “a penis swinging about” (to quote the colleague who reviewed his previous show) you’d better steer clear.
“Why naked?” – I hear you ask – “Is he trying to sell more tickets?”. No, he’s not. Clothes would be a distraction and detract from his jaw-dropping character work. Of course, he might well also have provocation in mind, but this is why fringe theatre exists, so be at peace.
His spectacular eye for detail and ability to reproduce different personas in the space of seconds is equal to none. His body, his voice and the facial expressions for each character are so distinctive they are identifiable at first glance, rolling seamlessly on stage as if in a film. Whether that’s an elderly lady whose cat has died, a widowed stand-up comedian, a Welsh shepherd who’s lost some of his lambs or a young girl trapped in a well, they all contribute with their direct experience of death. There is even one person who looks like death itself – a crooked little creature waving two fingers to invite us to follow them. Scott-Rowley’s visionary masterpiece gathers them all around a porcelain toilet: another of those things that, like death, all humans have in common.
Matt Cater’s lighting is the perfect replacement for the artist’s missing clothes. Multicolour spotlights envelop his body or turn white to cast long shadows on the back wall. Warmer hues hug it when he’s at its most frail or isolate it further when he wanders in barren fields. There’s nothing on stage other than the toilet and yet we can see entire worlds taking shape with light.
An hour flies and when you think the performance has reached its apex, Scott-Rowley gives you some more of everything. Allowing all his people to make another brief appearance or just very simply raising the bar of his incredible talent to new unpredictable heights, like in his final exhilarating anthem “Turn Towards Your Pain”. Being reminded that we will all die, we are also encouraged to process pain and make the most of life.
YOU ARE GOING TO DIE is clever, defiant and strangely heartwarming. You really haven’t seen fringe theatre until you have watched it; and by the way, did I mention that Adam Scott-Rowley is a genius?
Created by: Adam Scott-Rowley, Joseph Prowen and Tom Morley
Produced by: Adam Scott-Rowley
YOU ARE GOING TO DIE plays at EdFringe 2023 until 27 August, 8:50pm at Summerhall. Further information and bookings here.