Michael Dale (Fringe Administrator 1982 -1986) once described the Fringe as “a forum for ideas and achievement”. Perhaps in recent years, as the Fringe has become more commercial for audiences and less accessible for performers, it’s lost that element of willingness to explore and experiment. This is Not Culturally Significant takes the Fringe back to that adventurous experimental spirit without pandering to commercially-driven crowds. It’s a testament to the open-mindedness of Fringe audiences that hundreds of punters turned up to an experimental one-man show at 11:45pm on a Sunday night.
“These are humans in all their natural, animalistic glory, stripped back, uncensored, and presented to you without shame or judgement”
This is Not Culturally Significant explores a wide selection of characters: from a female sex worker through to a West End producer suffering from throat cancer. Oh, and we should probably address the elephant in the room straight away, yes, it is performed completely naked. There’s something quite hypnotic about the exploration of these characters, particularly in such a raw form. The differences between each and every character in physicality and vocals are vast, and yet solo performer Adam Scott-Rowley portrays each one near perfectly. Every character is clear, nuanced and believable, swapping between different personas in an instant, occasionally even mid-word. It’s frequently hilarious, and Scott-Rowley plays up to the audience’s uproarious laughter, but sharply juxtaposes this with tragic and heart-breaking sequences that prove deeply moving. This is by far the most nuanced, delicate and impressive performance I have seen this Fringe. Adam Scott-Rowley is surely destined for great things if this is anything to go by.
The normalisation of full frontal male nudity in This is Not Culturally Significant is somewhat fascinating. It would be easy to criticise it for being gratuitous and pretentious, but it’s not being used for the sake of it, nor is it being used for shock value. Rather, the nudity portrays these characters in their most stripped back, explicitly human form. For lack of a better term, there’s no theatrical bullshit: no costume or props, simply a character. And yet, once combined with Scott-Rowley’s pinpoint physicality, it transcends the idea of theatrical characterisations. These are humans in all their natural, animalistic glory, stripped back, uncensored, and presented to you without shame or judgement.
This is Not Culturally Significant is a hilarious, moving exploration of human nature in an unashamedly explicit setting. Adam Scott-Rowley gives a stunning performance in a must-see production.
Gilded Balloon at the Museum, 4th – 26th August, 23:45
Image: Out of Spite Theatre