DramaFeaturedLondonPhysical TheatreReview

You are Going to Die – Southwark Playhouse Borough, London

Reviewer: Scott Matthewman

Creator: Adam Scott-Rowley

Co-creators: Joseph Prowen and Tom Morley

The first thing one notices upon entering Southwark Playhouse’s otherwise empty main space is that You are Going to Die’s sole player, performance artist Adam Scott-Rowley, is sitting on the toilet. The second is that he is completely naked.

Scott-Rowley remains that way – naked, though not seated – throughout this hour of character observation. Scott-Rowley contorts his body to assume the mantle of a succession of characters, from an old man lamenting the gentle, noble death of his cat, to a TikToker trapped in a well, to an old tap-dancing woman who’d show us still she had the moves if she could get to the spotlight fast enough.

The lack of clothing makes Scott-Rowley’s work potentially more vulnerable although, with its daubs of paint and occasional bursts of fiercely guttural ululations, there’s something ritualistically tribal to it, too. It also gives Scott-Rowley the freedom to assume any character at will, unencumbered by trappings that might contradict his assumed persona.

As the title suggests, much of the performer’s content muses on the nature of mortality, although the theme of his disparate skits is frequently more elusive than one would hope. But when he approaches his topic obliquely, some gems are visible: a Northern comic who launches into a “my mother-in-law” routine, which instead of resolving into cliché becomes a paean of gratitude for the help she gave him after the death of his wife.

The show’s strengths are its transitions and abrupt changes in tone. Scott-Rowley’s physicality allows him to often start an exaggerated movement in the spirit of his current character; by the time the movement has finished, both it and his persona have disappeared. In such moments, one can truly appreciate the performer’s craft.

With the technical excellence comes layers of silliness and filth – from a man who gets sexually excited by licking the seat of the ever-present toilet, to a raucous closing song in which the audience is encouraged to join in about the pleasures of sex toys.

But in the quieter moments, Adam Scott-Rowley touches upon something universal, honest and present in all of us. We are all going to die; the question is whether we can be as open and vulnerable, wearing clothes or not.

Continues until 4 May 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Nakedly honest

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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