Originally published on A Younger Theatre
Adam Scott-Rowley is in your face right from the start, gyrating and masterbating on a stool. The shock factor here is instant, but quickly subsides as Scott-Rowley rapidly transitions into an old, lonely man on a porch, a lecturer delivering a monologue around spiritualism and both sides of an abusive married couple. This Is Not Culturally Significant, an ironic title since all of Scott-Rowley’s observations about the various outcasts in society seem to be anything but. One thing they all have in common is a distinct inability to fade into the background.
In this inaugural production from Out Of Spite Theatre, Scott-Rowley has taken the mantle entirely upon himself – writer, director and actor. He uses lighting cues to transform his physicality between characters, seemingly without connection but slowly overlapping with each other as the play progresses. For the most part the writing has promise; each character follows an arc, developing their story as snippets are gradually revealed. At times the momentum drops and the overall motif seems to lose direction, although there is a clear narrative train of thought that connects one skit adeptly with another. Yes, there are some extremely tenuous links, but given the variety and multitude of personalities that Scott-Rowley singularly plays this is to be expected.
Whilst the story has room for improvement and development, Scott-Rowley’s acting has clearly received the majority of his focus – and it pays off. Intentionally outrageous, he extracts a physical, emotive performance from each character, transforming his entire being to embody the next personality in line. As the show progresses, each role becomes more and more agitated to get out of his consciousness – a Jekyll and Hyde situation in which all of the voices are competing for dominance until they explode out in a jarring finale. The transitions become quicker but the capability to instantly skip fluidly between roles is never diminished, every appendage being utilised to its full effect.
In many ways, costumes would get in the way of Scott-Rowley’s realistic show – with so many scene changes, it is natural to expect that the quality of acting might suffer as a result. But we don’t have this problem as an audience, we are forced to look past the facade and consider the people, particularly since Scott-Rowley is completely naked for the entire show. No socks, no pants, nowhere to hide. Initially it feels as though his intention was purely to shock, but once the pointed impact has worn off this vulnerability serves to empower Scott-Rowley and give meaning to what could easily be a forgettable production. This Is Not Culturally Significant has a number of clever interpretations, but ultimately lives up to its name.
This Is Not Culturally Significant plays The Vaults until 19 February. For more information, see the website.