It’s been a little while since we went to see Adam Kammerling’s new show Shall We Take This Outside at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton, but it’s not that we’re being lazy or that we were uninspired; it’s just that this is the kind of experience that you need to sit with and unpackage in a super cool brooding pose of reflection. Now slowly curling out of The Thinker by Rodin, we can offer you our takeaway from the performance.
Adam Kammerling is a celebrated poet on the spoken word scene having been a slam champion and a founding member of the Chill Pill collective. He has destroyed opponents on the battle rap scene as part of Don’t Flop and released highly bumpable tunes of his own with collaborator and friend Cuth under the inventive and mysterious moniker Adam & Cuth. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this jack-of-all-trades and irrepresibly talented individual had enough strings on his bow for a one-man orchestra, but you’d be wrong, he clearly has more to add.
Poetry theatre is a hard form to do well, let alone master. Keeping an audience engaged and separating what’s going on onstage from being just a glorified poetry performance is often down to distinction and definition. In turning to collaboration with other forms such as dance or visual arts sometimes the performance can slip a little into the territory of early Kate Bush (don’t get us twisted, we LOVE us some Kate Bush) where the obvious art school background of the movement and direction of the piece irritates/sterilizes the legitimacy of the feeling. Adam has managed to stay well clear of this and the collaboration with dancers and props on stage feels organic, raw, and wholly honest.
Dancers Emma Houston and Si Rawlinson take turns serving as physical manifestations of Kammerling’s brothers and other associates as well as embodying the inner turmoil and emotions associated with the themes and content of the work. It’s a beautiful thing to watch and the three flow seamlessly together to tell the story.
Speaking of the story; it is a relevant and powerfully potent one. Weaving together the fabric of childhood memories, adolescence, and adulthood Adam is able to shine a spotlight on the fragile male ego, the birth of toxic masculine idols through media and childhood fictions, and the links this has on violence, male mental health and the world around us. The little boy, the confused angsty teenager, and the brittle broken man stand naked, blinking and dazed in the glare of this illuminating beam.
The narrative is put together perfectly in terms of pacing and delivery, it serves up both the highs of cocaine energy cereal heists and the more somber punch-drunk afterglow of kebab shop beatings. The consistent throwback to what is considered “heroic” is a humorous and thought-provoking piece that is laced throughout and makes up the core thematic thread.
This show packs the punch that the name implies, and it’s a bruising that will stick with you for a while. Adam Kammerling has quietly put together a work of true dazzling brilliance that is as honest, inspiring, and informative as it is entertaining to watch. This is not just a show that you need to take your sons and daughters to see, this is a show that should be touring on every school syllabus. It’s going to be in Bristol on the 2nd and 3rd of July and you should go ahead and book your tickets right now.
Words by Matt Miles