Review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, Southwark Playhouse

All sizzle, no sausage.

By: Apr. 23, 2024
Review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, Southwark Playhouse
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Review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, Southwark Playhouse Review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, Southwark Playhouse A show dripping in pretension performed by a naked man? An impenetrable work obsessed with having a sex toy deep inside one’s backside? A meditation on “existential anxiety” that does little of note with an hour of precious life? There’s enough irony in You Are Going To Die to power an Alanis Morissette comeback, and then some.

More akin in format to a variety show than a play, Adam Scott-Rowley goes all out to fit in as many artistic genres and personas as he can but none that truly hit home. Early on, there’s circus clowning as he spends a minute miming the lifting a barbell a few inches off the floor before he tries his hand at the more aggressive style of the art form (think Doctor Brown or Red Bastard), half-heartedly inveigling an audience member into joining him in some naughty poses. That he doesn’t really commit to either is symptomatic of his scatty and scattergun approach to the remainder of this creation. 

Review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, Southwark Playhouse
Photo credit: Ryan Buchanan

There follows a carousel of characters, none of which are settled on for long. All of them are facing death in some way. An elderly man ponders the final moments of his cat, a child is trapped in a well, a couple face the end of their marriage, a Northern comic relates the recent passing of his wife and some poor soul is stuck with a dildo so far up their rectum that it is apparently affecting their breathing.

He jumps around both literally as well as figuratively, at one point hobbling towards the spotlight before it shifts to the other side of the room; when he gets close to it again, it moves back to its original place. This kind of facile japery offers a number of interpretations - perhaps it represents the futility of chasing true love or the boomerang nature of home-office-home (rinse and repeat). With precious little context around it, the audience is left to frustratingly fill in the gaps.

Review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, Southwark Playhouse
Photo credit: Ryan Buchanan

The unexplained nudity seems to be there more for cheap chuckles than anything else and is at the heart of this show’s key failings. Penny Arcade’s Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!, Louise Orwin’s High Steaks and Lucy McCormick’s Lucy And Friends put unclad female bodies under the spotlight to smartly raise sociopolitical issues. Spymonkey find superbly sharp comedy in the sudden and unexpected lack of clothing. As they strip, most burlesque dancers express more in a few minutes than Scott-Rowley does in sixty. Like the sensationalist title itself, one could reasonably accuse this messy show of being more sizzle than sausage.

You Are Going To Die continues at Southwark Playhouse until 4 May.

Photo credits: Ryan Buchanan




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