The shock factor bubbles down to nervous laughter when Adam Scott-Rowley takes to the stage, completely naked as a masturbating webcam porn star – This Is Not Culturally Significant. When Scott-Rowley moves fluidly into further characters – a Scottish homeless woman that flirts with a police officer; a lonely American widower sitting on his porch waiting for human contact; a preacher lecturing us on the philosophy of faith – it is easy to look past the nudity, it is not culturally significant. Scott-Rowley flips between personalities with such ease that it seems like he suffers from multiple personality disorder (MPD). This is significant; this is the crux of the piece; this is the mental health spectrum that lies at the heart of the matter. Scott-Rowley’s impressive physical form is simply smoke and mirrors.

This Is Not Culturally Significant is an exceptionally varied piece of theatre, showcasing a multitude of Scott-Rowley’s talents as writer, director and performer. On the one hand, it’s an acting masterclass – Scott-Rowley warps between each part with buzz words, sounds or ticks that let him instantly shed one skin and climb into another. Every part is instantly recognisable and highly physical – in one moment he stands tall and powerful, in another he shrinks into a shell of his former self and is very much in danger of disintegrating in front of your eyes. As the audience, we link the various roles together in the knowledge that they all inhabit one body, another insightful link into the mental state of the singularity from which they emanate.

Scott-Rowley isn’t afraid of an uncomfortable silence, or a pregnant pause. Indeed, these are used with frightening effect, when words are either not needed or insufficient. As a writer, he uses the space to inject detail into his script and highlight subtle shifts in the discussion around mental health. Some personae claim to be on the spectrum – a mantra that is used to party away to and ultimately hide within – while others experience severe depression through the loss of loved ones. Everything manifests itself slightly differently, a true skill in Scott-Rowley’s writing that gives him the freedom to pick up on these nuances with varying emphasis in the performance.

There is frequently such overwhelming sadness, longing & regret in Scott-Rowley’s eyes and tone of voice, an undercurrent running throughout the whole of This Is Not Culturally Significant that escapes briefly at opportune moments. The strobe flashes, the sound distorts and there is the semblance of conflict within the lucid creator’s consciousness. But then it is gone, subdued and brought back under control once more as he loses himself to the variety of clamouring egos, each requiring attention. It’s a production full of dark humour, but one that highlights an even more harrowing harsh reality.

Dreams are the space between fact and fantasy, a point on the cusp of both such that we can’t distinguish the two until we found ourselves firmly back in one camp or another. This indistinguishable quality is the tightrope that Scott-Rowley adeptly walks for the entirety of This Is Not Culturally Significant. But it’s his vulnerability that impresses the most, as a man who opens his sanity and lets it bleed out onto the stage. The irony in the title is not lost on the audience – the stories may not seem significant, but the piece as a whole is entirely relevant, important and vital for all to bear witness to.

 

★★★★☆

This Is Not Culturally Significant plays Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 26 August 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

Follow the link to an interview with producer, Jamie Eastlake.