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A simple yes or no question: Do you think you’re important?
This is the premise of Unrestricted View’s newest production, which feels like a unique hybrid of TED talk, stand-up, drama and therapy session rolled into one. The Narcissist does not make for a comfortable watch, and the intense contrast between outright silliness, a defiant ‘fuck it’ mantra and moments of sincere sadness and gravity feel surreal and somewhat jarring. However, it’s this creative and unsettling fusion of tone that brilliantly conveys the underlying notion of human complexity.
I’ll admit I was sceptical at first – the format doesn’t feel immediately intuitive, and although Adolphy has undoubtable compelling charisma, some jokes feel too juvenile to land well, and so inflictive of ‘lad culture’ that it almost alienates. But as the narrative plays out and weighty topics such as delusion, love and death are explored with relatable illustrations of being a 20-something in 2018, a second narrative feeds in which gives some unexpected but much needed nuance and complexity, which only strengthens all dimensions of the story.
Adolphy is animated, expressive and incredibly captivating, and in 60 minutes he impressively lays himself bare and addresses the highs and lows of a lifetime with wit, charm and raw emotion. He confronts the philosophy of ‘self’, illusion and social constructions with hilarious and unnerving group exercises and inward reflection. He implores us to create our own reality, but offsets this with an unescapable reality of his own – one that includes universally pertinent elements of shame, grief, and a need to be loved.
I would have been interested to see a more spontaneous version of the show – there were some very obvious ‘plants’ which is unfortunate as the production feels strong enough to rely on genuine and impulsive audience participation. Despite this, The Narcissist provides so many dimensions that it verges on surreal, but this is where it’s genius lies.