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This is Not Culturally Significant (Edinburgh Fringe Festival): Review

this is not culturally significant This little light of mine. Adam Scott-Rowley in 'This is Not Culturally Significant'. Photograph: Courtesy of Bessell McNamee.

This is Not Culturally Significant is one of the most intense and frightening things on the fringe. A shamanic nightmare that leaves brutal scars.

This is Not Culturally Significant contains a naked man covered in strange symbols seeming possessed by host of strange and desperate characters.

Writing

Thank fuck I wasn’t planning on doing a #FreshOffTheStalls video review for this, because it would have been so difficult to put into words everything that I had just witnessed. This is Not Culturally Significant is outrightly one of the most extreme, potent, and petrifying pieces of theatre I have ever witnessed. It’s outrageous, shocking, and absolutely gob-smacking.

Yet there is so much more to This is Not Culturally Significant than shock value and entertaining surrealism. Even though Adam Scott-Rowley’s masterpiece may seem at first like a chaos of character comedy, the more This is Not Culturally Significant continues you start to realise the sheer genius of its writing as it becomes more and more incredibly dark and disturbing.

This is Not Culturally Significant’s intelligence can be found in how you’re led by the nose through Scott-Rowley’s writing completely unawares. From the vulgar hilarity of the opening to its horrific end, Scott-Rowley plays the audience like a violin. The entire audience starts with laugh out loud guffaws at the ridiculousness of the characters and the obscene things they’re doing, to starting to laugh-nervously halfway through, to being completely dumbfounded and shaken to the core by This is Not Culturally Significant’s finale. Every little detail is considered and masterfully crafted here. Many of the characters are linked, but some aren’t. A couple are complete red herrings whilst others are indirectly relevant. All of this is completely deliberate to prick your own gradual realisation to what This is Not Culturally Significant is about, whilst keeping it bewildering enough that it’s not obvious straight away. So much thought has been put into the audience’s “journey” as much as the what This is Culturally Significant is trying to say making it a completely complete theatrical experience like very little else out there, let alone one that will also fuck you up psychologically!

As for what This is Culturally Significant’s meaning? It’s open to some interpretation, but the result of having sat through nearly an hour of sheer theatrical horror is that it’s clearly a desperate bloodcurdling scream for help regardless of what you think the reason is. Whether you think it’s about schizophrenia or a man reliving his troubled family history, the intensity of its ear-piercing wail shatters your very bones and leaves completely ripped to shreds.

Performance

Can someone please call an exorcist for Scott-Rowley: I don’t think it’s humanly possible to be so brilliant and terrifying. Playing all the characters in This is Not Culturally Significant, Scott-Rowley manages to embody each and every one so distinctly and swiftly, you completely forget he’s just the one actor. The amount of energy, physicality, polish, and discipline needed to do this is unequivocally immense. Scott-Rowley is an extraordinary shape-shifter that defies belief and is perhaps the most seminal performance at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Verdict

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of theatre so intense. This is Not Culturally Significant is a banshee of such brutality and terror it’s genuinely traumatic.

This is Not Culturally Significant plays at Gilded Balloon at the Museum (Venue 64), until 26 August 2017. For tickets, times, and prices, visit tickets.edfringe.com.