The Narcissist, as you might expect from such a title, is a one-man show. In the space of an hour, writer and performer Will Adolphy, uses monologue, dance, and an unexpected foray into acoustic guitar to explain what it means to be, and how we all are, a narcissist.
What begins with Adolphy punching the air and some rather impressive hip thrusting evolves into something a little more emotional, as our narrator gradually reveals the past that has made him who he is. This is on the surface an exploration of narcissism, yet what becomes clear as the show goes on is that it is also tapping into humanity’s desire to protect the self. Self-mockery jumps into painful memories surrounding his father’s suicide, which mean that this is an undeniably bold script.
Yet, this dive into the deeply personal doesn’t stop humour from dominating, and most of the play is laugh-out-loud funny. This is largely down to Adolphy’s delivery. As he struts across the stage, climbs into and across the audience, and demands audience participation and at one point even your socks (a funny, yet thought-provoking trick that leaves many audience members twittering), Adolphy is an assured, confident and, dare-I-say, narcissistic performer. This self-confessed Dominic Cooper-lookalike plays the role perfectly, and is the star of the show.
That said, director Gemma Aked-Priestley must be mentioned, as although Adolphy steals the show, the slick, simple direction of The Narcissist makes it stand out from small venue productions, and has the feel of something bigger. The minimalist approach to props – the main one being the TED talk style flip board which Adolfy uses to steer us through our narcissistic world – helps the audience to concentrate on what is at hand, the breaking down of our protagonist as he reveals himself, warts and all, to us.
The Narcissist has much more to it than the name suggests. Yes, the divide between fun and emotion could be neater, but this show has much promise, both in terms of its writing and performance. I expect to see Will Adolphy, The Narcissist, gracing bigger, brighter stages in the future.
The Narcissist played at the Hen & Chicken’s Theatre until 11 January 2018
Photo: Hen & Chickens