The Worst of Scottee

Richard Watts

Blackly comic yet deeply moving, this one man show is a profound examination of the power of guilt and confession.
The Worst of Scottee

In a photobooth in a darkened theatre, English performer Scottee sits and tells us about his life. His hands flutter nervously, like caged birds, as he talks of growing up fat and gay on an English housing estate; of stealing from his grandmother; of falsely claiming to be HIV positive, and telling friends that his very-much-alive girlfriend had committed suicide. His gestures are focused and finessed, deliberate yet revealing – all part of this carefully staged, exquisitely directed and performed production.

Initially, The Worst of Scottee is a black comedy, and a striking one at that, as typified by an early sequence in which Scottee sings ‘Cry Me a River’ as oily black tears flood spectacularly down his pale face. Scottee’s tales are wrong, but enjoyably so; the sort of gormless adolescent adventures that we are all guilty of, and cheerfully admit to after a couple of drinks at a dinner party or at the pub.

Soon, however, the mood darkens; the confessional nature of Scottee’s performance is intensified and his stories become bleaker and more painful, even as the artifice of the production becomes more pronounced. The guiding hand of director Chris Goode thankfully ensures that the piece’s carefully controlled aesthetic – such as the use of video, which recalls the anonymity fuelling the worst of our online interactions – never overwhelms the intimate nature of the performance; instead, it serves as a highly effective counterpoint.

At its darkest, The Worst of Scottee provokes gasps of shock from the audience, and pained cries of sympathy and recognition, even as it stirs a powerful sense of empathy and sympathy among those watching the performance. As a work of drama, it doesn’t just create the illusion of emotion – it manifests it, tangibly and dramatically.

Remarkably honest, confronting and magnificent, The Worst of Scottee is Melbourne’s first must-see production for 2014.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Worst of Scottee
Written and performed by Scottee
Directed by Chris Goode
Theatre Works, St Kilda
20-25 January

Midsumma 2014
12 January - 2 February
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's Performing Arts Editor and Team Leader, Editorial; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R.

The founder of the Emerging Writers' Festival, Richard currently serves on the Committee of Management for La Mama Theatre, on the board of literary journal Going Down Swinging, and on the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel. He is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and in 2017 was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend.

Follow Richard on Twitter: @richardthewatts